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Rahul, Iyer's Republic Day gift to India

Rahul, Iyers Republic Day gift to India
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Bowlers too excel as visitors crush hosts by 7-wicket to take 2-0 lead

Auckland: India tightened their grip on the T20I series with a seven-wicket drubbing of New Zealand in the second match after their bowlers stifled the hosts on a pocket-sized Eden Park here on Sunday.

Boasting a formidable batting line-up, chasing 133 proved to be a cakewalk for the visitors on a pitch that was slightly on the slower side. The very short boundary ensured the match ended with as many as 15 balls to spare.

The trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami allowed no respite to Kane Williamson's team after New Zealand surprisingly chose to bat, restricting them to 132 for five.

K L Rahul then scored 57 not out off 50 balls while Shreyas Iyer scored 44 off 33 balls, the duo adding 86 runs for the third wicket and after Rohit Sharma's twin failure. Tim Southee took 2-20 as India had to do without major contributions from both Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli.

Sharma (8) was out caught at slip in the first over off Southee. New Zealand's new ball bowlers were compact and didn't let the Indian top order get away unlike the first T20I on Friday.

Even so, Rahul and Kohli added 31 runs for the second wicket. The latter then was caught behind off Southee in the sixth over with Tim Seifert taking a brilliant diving catch. Kohli scored 11 off 12 balls and the wicket's slow nature was starting to impact proceedings. New Zealand held back their spinners too, but Rahul-Iyer settled down in this passage of play.

They rotated strike well and added 50 in 55 balls by minimising risks. Rahul brought up his 11th T20I half-century off 43 balls. Overall, Rahul hit three fours and two sixes, while Iyer hit one four and three sixes. India crossed 100 in the 15th over after which Iyer cut loose to approach the finish line. He fell just prior, holing out off Ish Sodhi (1-33).

But Rahul stuck around while Shivam Dube finished the job with a six over midwicket. This was after Indian bowlers made good use of a slower pitch. Opting to bat, the Black Caps couldn't generate enough momentum in the middle overs and finished with a sub-par total. Martin Guptill top-scored with 33 off 20 balls, while Tim Seifert was unbeaten on 33 not out off 26 balls.

Guptill and Colin Munro (26) provided a measured start to New Zealand putting on 48 runs for the first wicket. Surprisingly, India held back Jasprit Bumrah (1-21) as Shardul Thakur (1-21) and Mohammed Shami (0-22) bowled four overs in the power play.

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