Hamilton: A dejected Rohit Sharma praised New Zealand for their convincing performance and said it was disappointing to not cross the finish line after coming so close as the Kiwis took the series 2-1 after a four-run victory in the third T20I.
“212 was always going to be a tough chase and we were in the game right till the end,” the stand-in Indian skipper said at the post-match presentation.
“They held their nerves and bowled yorkers perfectly. We started well with the ODIs and it was a long tour. The boys put in a lot of effort and they will be disappointed but we have to learn from our mistakes. They were a lot of positives and now we are looking forward to heading home to play Australia,” added Rohit.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson called the series a great advertisement for cricket. “Credit to India for a great series, our first performance was the best and we learned a lot from the second game. Now we are looking forward to the series against Bangladesh,” he said.
Colin Munro was named Man-of-the-Match for his powerful 72 off just 40 balls. “It was touch and go till the final minute. India have so many good batsmen in their line-up. My focus was on putting the pressure back on the bowlers, I had a bit of luck which you certainly need in this game,” said Munro.
India looked to be on the ropes when they needed 47 off the last three overs. Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya together plundered 32 off overs 18 and 19 but Tim Southee restricted the duo to 11 in the 20th.
New Zealand, sent into bat, made 212 for four with India 208 for six at the close.
The morale-boosting victory for New Zealand came after being whipped 4-1 by India in the earlier one-day international series.
It was also a vital knock from Munro, whose position in the New Zealand side ahead of the World Cup had been in question after a string of failures in the ODI and Twenty20 matches against India.
Munro charged down the track to smack Bhuvneshwar Kumar over the rope with the first ball he faced to kick off a flying partnership with Tim Seifert.
The pair raced to 80 in the eighth over when the lightning hands of MS Dhoni had Seifert stumped by a hair’s breadth for 43.
Munro’s belligerence earned him 72 off 40 balls, flaying the bowling with five fours and five sixes. He was removed by Kuldeep Yadav when he skied a ball to Hardik Pandya running in from long-on.
Kane Williamson (27) fell in the next over when he pulled a rising delivery from Khaleel Ahmad to Yadav at fine leg.
Colin de Grandhomme chimed in with 30 off 16 to ensure New Zealand passed the critical 200 mark for the second time in the series.
Vijay Shankar took an equally aggressive stance at the start of India’s chase and the visitors were up at the required run rate through the first half of their innings, but were unable to establish partnerships.
Meanwhile, an all-round show by Sophie Devine helped New Zealand defeat the Indian women by two runs to sweep the three match women’s Twenty20 International series here on Sunday.