New Zealand leave the field after the rain came down. Photo / photosport.nz
India have edged a rain-interrupted T20 series against New Zealand after the third and final match ended in a rare DLS tie in Napier tonight.
Chasing 161 and seeking to repeat their victory from the second match, the tourists had reached 75-4 after nine overs when the weather intervened and forced the players from the field.
That number matched the DLS par score so, when the umpires called off the game half an hour later, India secured a 1-0 series triumph ahead of the first of three ODIs between the sides at Eden Park on Friday.
An optimist would suggest the rain robbed the Black Caps a chance of squaring the series given the contest, as DLS indicated, was very much in the balance.
A pessimist, on the other hand, would point out that avoiding defeat spared the home side some serious embarrassment given what transpired late in their innings.
New Zealand had seemed set for a formidable total after an 86-run stand between Devon Conway (59 off 49) and Glenn Phillips (54 off 33) left them on 146-3 in the 17th over.
But then, in 13 extremely unfortunate minutes, the hosts lost six wickets while adding three runs, a collapse that eventually saw them bowled out in the final over for 160.
What made the carnage of the final four overs so surprising was all that had occurred in the previous 16, with the Black Caps opting to bat first and feeling good after sticking close to their established blueprint.
They recovered from another early dismissal for Finn Allen, unable to cope with the swing of Arshdeep Singh and trapped in front for 3, and they didn’t look like missing absent captain Kane Williamson.
Replacement Mark Chapman managed only 12 before skying a leading edge, but that cleared the way for Conway and Phillips.
The opener had mistimed a couple of early shots as he scuffled to 2 off 11 but found his timing in the fourth over, collecting 14 runs with three straight shots of variety and quality.
Phillips, too, started slowly after New Zealand had ended the powerplay on 46-2, but his aggression began to emerge and complement Conway’s accumulation as the partnership progressed.
The pair looked ready to launch after reaching a 50-run stand in the 13th over, an appearance exemplified by Phillips slogging Yuzvendra Chahal onto the McLean Park roof. Then it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s turn to disappear out of the ground, courtesy of a majestic Phillips pull.
Both batsmen soon notched their eighth T20I half-centuries as the Black Caps reached 129-2 with five overs remaining, primed for a big score. But that’s when it all went wrong.
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After Kumar earned some revenge by taking a fine running catch to remove Phillips, Conway followed in the next over to trigger the implosion.
Led by Mohammed Siraj (4-17), India’s pace bowlers altered their length and the New Zealand batsmen responded by chasing the short ball and offering up catch after catch.
Daryl Mitchell at least cracked a couple of fours; Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne and Ish Sodhi lasted a combined eight deliveries in the middle.
The nadir came with Milne’s run out, the third wicket in as many balls, but thankfully for the Black Caps, offering up so many opportunities soon proved infectious.
The hosts’ bowlers matched the strategy of extracting bounce from the pitch and Tim Southee snared two consecutive wickets to reduce India to 21-3 in a three-over period that also produced a couple additional half-chances.
Once Sodhi removed Suryakumar Yadav for 13, with the world’s top-ranked batsman having already shown a couple of flashes of the form that saw him smash a century in the second match, the Black Caps had hope.
India skipper Hardik Pandya (30no off 18) did his best to quash that feeling, before the rain came down and ended the series on a damp note.