India Beat New Zealand By 7 Wickets, Win Paytm T2OI Series With 2-0 Lead!

India have won the Paytm 3-match T20 International Series beating New Zealand by 7 wickets in the second match in Ranchi today thus taking an unassailable 2-0 lead. In a rather funny contrast to Virat Kohli making a hat-trick of losing tosses in the T20 World Cup-2021 the new captain Rohit Sharma won his second consecutive toss in this series after Jaipur so far; however, this evening the dew factor was already there with winter season setting in the eastern region and it did not give India an undue advantage while chasing. India made one change bringing in IPL-sensation medium-fast bowler Harshal Patel replacing Mohammed Siraj while New Zealand made three changes—bowling all-rounder James Neesham, pacer Adam Milne and spinner Ish Sodhi, replacing Rachin Ravindra, Todd Astler and Lockie Ferguson.


Put into bat, New Zealand openers Martin Guptill (31 off just 15 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (31 in 28 balls) made an explosive start scoring 52 runs in 5 overs and 64 runs in the powerplay of 6 overs, of course losing the wicket of Guptill to Chahar at the team score of 48 in the 5th over. The first over was an eventful one: the first ball going for a four through the slips nearly caught; the second ball hit for another four; in the third ball a high but easy catch dropped by KL Rahul who later made amends by taking a good catch to dismiss Mark Chapman off Axar Patel; and 14 runs were scored by Guptill in that over by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. The second over by Deepak Chahar was hit for 12 runs. The spinners, Axar and Ashwin, had to be called in along with Harshal Patel. As New Zealand tried to keep up the momentum they started losing wickets at regular intervals thanks to some tight bowling by the trio and also Chahar coming back to take a wicket in his third over. Thanks to Phillips (34 in 21 balls) the Kiwis finally was able to put up a rather not-good-enough total of 153/6. Big hitter Neesham was a huge disappointment as apart from just 3 runs in 12 balls he only managed to break his bat before getting out. Harshal on his debut captured 2/25 in four overs while all four other bowlers took a wicket each.

India too made a solid start with their openers Rahul and Rohit putting up 50 runs in the 7th over and at 63/0 in 9 overs it was a tad slow and time to speed up the scoring to which Rohit responded immediately with a huge six off Santner, plundering 16 runs in that over, Rohit being also dropped off a skier by Boult in the 5th ball. Dropping catches has been a feature of this series affecting both the teams in Jaipur as well as in Ranchi. There was no looking back from that point as Rahul raced to his half-century and Rohit not far behind. The duo put up the 100-run partnership in the 12th over, threatening to make the match a one-sided affair. Rahul, trying to hit another six, fell for 65 in 49 balls to captain Southee at the team score of 117/1 in the 14th over.


Venkatesh Iyer came in to join Rohit and it was a good move to give the former a kind of grooming for batting with the hosts having an easy equation for victory. Rohit, in full flow, reached his half-century in 35 balls with a huge six off the Milne, and in the next over the India skipper fell at the same score of 55 to Tim Southee offering a rather tame catch with India needing just 20 runs in 28 balls. Suryakumar Yadav came in went for just 1run to Southee again giving him all the 3 wickets to fall. Suddenly there was a twist in the tale, India needing 17 in 24 losing 3 wickets quickly. Rishabh Pant settled the issue in the 18th over bowled by Neesham by hitting 2 sixes of the first 2 balls and India cruising to victory by 7 wickets with 14 balls to spare. In all, a healthy beginning for the new skipper Rohit Sharma winning a series leading from the front, regrouping after the disastrous World Cup under a new coach Rahul Dravid. Now, the 3rd T20I in Kolkata this Sunday will be a mere formality and more rookies are likely to be tried, but Dravid aims at winning every match which is the right spirit.


A point must be made here about the crowds. As the pandemic seemed to have stabilized in India the BCCI has allowed 100% capacity crowd to be allowed inside the stadiums after checking vaccination or RT-PCR negative certificates at entry both in Jaipur and Ranchi, and like in Jaipur the  Ranchi stadium was chock-a-block with spectators most of whom did not bother wearing masks. It becomes a joke to expect social distancing once you allow 100% capacity crowds. In fact, a worried advocate filed a PIL in Jharkhand High Court for the postponement of the Ranchi match demanding 50% capacity crowd to be maintained for entry. This worry cannot be dismissed easily due to the behavior patterns of the COVID-19 virus and the experience of Europe under a heavy surge of infections again, particularly Russia, Germany, Netherlands and Austria. Due to a careless Covidiotic behavior in the beginning of the year saw India suffer from the most horrible second wave and one cannot yet be certain about more waves in future.


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