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India in New Zealand: Clinical visitors take 2-0 lead

KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer once again starred with the bat and took India home comfortably after their colleagues in the bowling department restricted New Zealand to a modest 132 in Auckland on Sunday (January 26) in the second T20I. On a slowish pitch the visitors chased the total down with 15 balls and seven wickets to spare and by doing that they have now taken a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

Having lost Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli early in their run-chase, the visiting team was under a tricky position during the powerplay. But Rahul and Iyer – heroes of the last game – yet again bailed the visitors out with their mature batsmanship. Both of the them batted in extreme contrast to their swashbuckling knocks in the previous game on Friday (January 24) to stitch a 86-run stand for the third wicket, pushing India ever so close to the target.

While Rahul (57 not out off 50 balls) scored his second consecutive fifty of the series, and 11th overall of his T20I career, Iyer fell six runs short of his half-century. However, by that time the fate of the match was almost decided and Shivam Dube finished things off in style with a six over long-on.

Earlier, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson once again won the toss and opted to bat. But unlike the last match, on this occasion the Indian bowlers troubled New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro with their tight line and lengths, not allowing them to get off to an explosive start.

Guptill (33 off 20 balls), like last game, failed to convert his start into a big knock and fell on the last ball of the powerplay, with scoreboard reading 48/1. Munro (26 off 25 balls) struggled to get going from the start and finally got out off the bowling of Shivam Dube in the ninth over.

In the middle overs, Ravindra Jadeja, with his left-arm spin troubled the New Zealand batsmen on that used Eden park surface. He was the most economical bowler in the match and returned with figures of 2/18 in his four-over spell.

Apart from Jadeja, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were also on top of their game and bowled brilliantly in the death overs.

For New Zealand Ross Taylor (18 off 24 balls) and Tim Seifert (33 off 26) couldn’t provide the hosts with late fireworks as they finished with a below par score.

The two teams will now travel to Hamilton for the third T20I which will be played at Seddon Park on January 29.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 132 for 5 in 20 overs (Seifert 33*, Guptill 33; Jadeja 2 for 18) lost to India 135 for 3 in 17.3 overs (Rahul 57*, Iyer 44; Southee 2 for 20) by 7 wickets.

Player of the match: KL Rahul

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!

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