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Cricket news - Krunal, Rohit fire India to series-levelling win

Krunal Pandya bagged the crucial scalps of Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell

India's pacers bowled expertly in tandem in the slog overs, while Krunal Pandya ran through the heart of the top-order as the visitors posted a convincing seven-wicket victory versus New Zealand in Auckland to level the three-match T20I series at 1-1. After restricting the home side to 158 for 8, Rohit Sharma (50) and Shikhar Dhawan (30) provided a quickfire start, with the tourists eventually chasing down the target in the 19th over.

While defending a below par target, New Zealand needed to scythe through the top order. However, Rohit with his rhythmic and elegant batsmanship, ensured the door on New Zealand's chances of charting a comeback was more or less shut.

In the third over, Rohit nonchalantly carted Lockie Ferguson's pacy delivery over deep midwicket. In the very next over bowled by Scott Kuggeleijin, he completed the landmark of 100 sixes with a sweetly timed six over the fine leg fence. Dhawan too joined in the act by showcasing his pyrotechnics to crunch a couple of boundaries off Tim Southee.

Rohit soon took his game to an elevated plane by waltzing down the track to loft Mitchell Santner into the stands. By then, the home team looked quite flat on the field and needed a lift. It was Ish Sodhi who provided the initial breakthrough by prising out the Indian captain. It was a half-tracker asking to be clubbed, but the opener could only muscle it to the deep midwicket fielder.

Lockie Ferguson followed it up by sending Dhawan back to the hut with a vicious short delivery. He didn't give the southpaw the chance to free his arms and Dhawan eked out a top edge to backward point. Vijay Shankar didn't last long but with just over 40 runs to cross the finishing line, the result of the match was more or less a foregone conclusion. The duo of Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni steered India home without breaking sweat.

The bowlers have to take the major share of the credit for India's series-levelling victory. Krunal, the left arm spinner, picked up the crucial scalps of Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell to leave New Zealand precariously placed at 50 for 4.

There was also a bit of controversy in the middle as Mitchell took the review for an LBW. The HotSpot indicated an inside edge but RTS didn't show a spike. The third umpire decided there wasn't conclusive evidence to overturn the decision. Williamson and Mitchell then had a discussion with the on field umpire but the latter had to take a walk back.

At that stage, Colin de Grandhomme gave a glimpse of his power-hitting by smacking two sixes each of Yuzvendra Chahal and Krunal. India, though, were able to pull things back in the death overs. The turning point of the innings was Hardik Pandya dismissing de Grandhomme and the home team never recovered from that blow.

India's pacers also found swing with the old ball to make it more difficult for the New Zealand batsmen. The skill level of India's bowlers at the fag end of the innings could be capsulised by the point that the hosts added just add 37 in the final five.

After a resounding victory in the first game, New Zealand would have to ponder about their top order failure. India, meanwhile, would be pleased with the clinical show.

Brief scores: New Zealand 158/8 in 20 overs (Colin de Grandhomme 50; Krunal Pandya 3-28) lost to India 162/3 in 18.5 overs (Rohit Sharma 50; Daryl Mitchell 1-15) by seven wickets.

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