Rahul, Rohit guide India to comfortable win in 2nd T20I

RANCHI, Nov 19:

Skipper Rohit Sharma and his deputy KL Rahul stitched an enterprising century-plus opening stand to power India to a comfortable seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the second T20 International and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series here today.
Chasing a modest 154 under heavy dew condition, the Indian captain and vice-captain started off in contrasting styles en route to their respective half-centuries.
Quiet at start, Rohit stepped up in the middle overs smashing five sixes and one four en route to his 36-ball 55.
Rahul started off in a brisk fashion, and top-scored with 65 from 49 balls with two sixes and six fours in an 117-run opening stand that virtually sealed the chase.
The Indian skipper is now involved in the most century-plus stands (13), overtaking 12 by Babar Azam and Martin Guptill.
The duo got out in the space of 13 balls but by then India needed just 19 off 27 balls and Rishabh Pant sealed the issue with a straight six over Jimmy Neesham’s head in the 18th over to take India home with 16 balls to spare.
The third and final T20I is scheduled to be played at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.
Rahul made his aggressive intent clear from the onset and raced to 15 off 12 balls before his captain could face a delivery.
Rahul was middling the ball beautifully and played the role of the aggressor, while Rohit was happy to bide his time in the middle giving India a sedate and sensible start.
There was a brief lull in the middle with 23 balls without a boundary before Rohit suddenly switched gears just before the halfway mark.
Scoring just 16 off 18 balls, Rohit decided to take on left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and hit him for two sixes in the mid-wicket and long-on region in an over that yielded 16 runs.
Suddenly the equation looked at par with 75 needed in the back-10 and Rahul, meanwhile, brought up his 16th T20I fifty in 40 balls with a flat six off pacer Adam Milne.
Earlier, India rode on a tight bowling display by the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel to stymie New Zealand’s explosive start and restrict the visitors to a modest 153 for six.
In a must-win match for the Kiwis, who are trailing 0-1 in the three-match series, Martin Guptill (31 off 15 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (31 off 28 balls) took the Indian pacers to the cleaners after being put into bat.
Cruising at 64 for one in the powerplay, the Kiwis suddenly hit a roadblock in the crucial middle overs and managed just 64 runs from 7 to 16 overs with Ashwin (1/19) and Axar (1/26) dominating the New Zealand batters in the dew-laden condition.
Skipper Rohit cleverly used Ashwin and Axar in the middle overs to restrict the run flow.
Ashwin was simply sensational with his variations as the New Zealand batters found it difficult to go after him. (PTI)