New Zealand registered a narrow four-run victory in the third and final T20I and won the series by 2-1 at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Sunday (February 10). 

Both the teams made one change each from the last match. Right-arm seamer Blair Tickner came in place for Lockie Ferguson and made his debut for New Zealand; while Kuldeep Yadav replaced Yuzvendra Chahal in the squad for India.

India won the toss and chose to field first. Colin Munro and Tim Seifert got off to a flying start for New Zealand. However, back to back boundaries and over-boundaries off Khaleel Ahmed in the 4th over and Krunal Pandya in the 6th over helped them to score 66 runs within the powerplay.

To stop the run flow, the captain Rohit Sharma handed over the ball to Kuldeep Yadav in the 8th over; who, in his very first over picked up Tim Seifert and handed over the first breakthrough to the team. It was an outside edge off Yadav and Dhoni, as usual with his lightning-quick glove-work sent Seifert in after scoring 43 off 25 which included three boundaries and as many sixes.

Seifert’s dismissal brought Kane Williamson at the crease. Munro, however, started dealing with big shots at the other end and brought up his half-century in the 11th over, smashing Krunal Pandya over deep mid-wicket for a six. Both of them added 55 runs through a steady association.

Before the pair could become more dangerous, Kuldeep Yadav struck again. Munro misread the delivery and ended up hitting towards long-on where Hardik Pandya took a well-judged catch and his blitzy knock of 72 off 40 came to an end in 14th over.

Williamson departed the very next over, giving a catch to Kuldeep at short fine leg off Ahmed. He scored 27 off 21 with three boundaries.

Daryl Mitchell and Colin de Grandhomme started building a partnership. The latter took the charge and started hitting all over the park, scored 30 off 16 with three boundaries and a six before getting dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

However, experienced Ross Taylor scored a quick-fire 14 off 7 and Mitchell scored 19 off 11 and took their side to 212 after 20 overs; which eventually proved to be a huge total to win the game.

Chasing a mammoth total of 213, India got the big blow in the very first over. After hitting the second ball for a boundary over through covers, he got dismissed in the fourth ball of the over by Santner. It was a straight forward catch to Daryl Mitchell at deep square leg; who did no mistake in taking it and Dhawan fell for 5.

Captain Rohit Sharma and Vijay Shankar tried to steady the ship and they managed to put up 57 runs in the powerplay. Shankar hit two sixes in the 8th over off Ish Sodhi and a boundary off Santner in the 9th over but before he could become more dangerous, Santner picked him up. Shankar was trying to play the slog sweep but ended up giving an easy catch to de Grandhomme at deep mid-wicket.

Rishabh Pant continued from where he left off in the last game, welcoming Santner with a boundary towards short fine leg. He stumped his authority by hitting a six over deep mid-wicket in the very next ball he faced.

Pant’s back to back big shots helped India to reach 100-mark within 10 overs. But this didn’t last at a long time as debutant Tickner picked up his maiden T20I wicket in the form of Pant; who scored a stormy 28 off 12 with one boundary and three sixes.

The hosts did break the stand of Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma by picking up the latter in the 14th over; who scored 38 off 32. Though Hardik Pandya started with a six, he fell for 21 off 11 with one boundary and two sixes. 

Dhoni fell for mere 2 off 4. The bowlers did a wonderful job by bringing down the run-rate. Though Krunal Pandya released some pressure with a maximum and two boundaries off Southee in the 18th over and taking fourteen-run in the penultimate over; which meant India needed 16 off the final over.

Karthik and Krunal Pandya tried their hearts out, Karthik smashed a six in the last ball of the final over, but failed to reach the target as New Zealand won the game by four runs.

Also Read: Lesser known facts about Rohit Sharma

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