MOUNT MAUNGANUI: Master finisher Jasprit Bumrah took 3-12 from four overs as India beat New Zealand by seven runs in the fifth Twenty20 International here on Sunday to sweep the five-match series 5-0.
For the third match in a row, New Zealand seemed to be coasting to victory before India, led by Bumrah, dragged themselves back into the match and won in a gripping finish at the Bay Oval.
India made 163-3 batting first, a moderate total in good batting conditions, and New Zealand were 116-3 in the 13th over before they yet again self-destructed and lost six wickets for 40 runs to finish at 156-9 after 20 overs.
The third and fourth matches were also New Zealand’s to win before India forced them into Super Overs then snatched victory in the tie-breakers.
New Zealand seemed even more well-placed to win on Sunday when Ross Taylor and Tim Seifert made half-centuries in a 99-run partnership for the fourth wicket to put the home team in a commanding position.
Taylor made 53 in his 100th Twenty20 International as he moved closer to the milestone of becoming the first cricketer to play 100 matches in all three formats.
Seifert made his second consecutive half-century after his 57 in the second match at Wellington which also lifted New Zealand to the brink of victory in that match.
But his dismissal for 50 in the 13th over signaled the beginning of the end for New Zealand.
Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner and Scott Kuggeleijn followed quickly and when Taylor was out to the first ball of the 18th over, New Zealand’s hopes of a drought-breaking victory had ended.
New Zealand needed 24 off the last two overs and 20 from the last, far beyond the abilities of its tail-enders.
Ish Sodhi hit two sixes in the final over, bowled by seamer Shardul Thakur, but New Zealand couldn’t reach their winning target.
“The match got close at one point but we had the belief in ourselves that we could squeeze in one or two good overs and the match could get close,” man-of-the-match Bumrah said. “It was windy and we were trying to use the wind, use the longer side of the boundary and we had good communication out there.”
Earlier Rohit Sharma top-scored with 60 before retiring hurt as India, playing without captain Virat Kohli, batted first after winning the toss. K.L. Rahul made 45 to a total of more than 240 runs in the series.
“Obviously we were positive coming into the series because we had been playing good Twenty20 cricket,” Rahul, adjudged man-of-the-series and who ended up captaining India in the final game after Kohli was rested and the original stand-in skipper Sharma limped from the field with a calf injury, said.
“Against the West Indies and Bangladesh, we did really, really well so we came into the series feeling positive and confident.
“Every time we were put under pressure and every time there seemed like there were no answers we came up with the answers. So it’s good to be standing here 5-0.”
New Zealand’s chase seemed a forlorn hope when they lost the first three wickets for just 17 runs but Taylor and Seifert put in on course to a convincing win. The match seemed to have tipped in New Zealand’s favor when they took 34 runs from the 10th over, bowled by part-timer Shivam Dube. But India pulled the match back with superb bowling by Bumrah, Navdeep Saini and Thakur.
“It’s another close one and unfortunately we’re on the wrong side,” stand-in New Zealand captain Tim Southee said. “But you give India a sniff, they’re a great side and they take it with both hands.”
With teams building towards the T20 World Cup later in the year Down Under, Kohli said India’s philosophy was to never give up.
“The conversation we had in the changing room was always looking at finding a way to win and that’s something we have been working on as a team and when it comes together nicely it feels really good,” he said.
The teams now meet in three One-day Internationals starting from Wednesday — with the first game in Hamilton — before moving on to the two-match Test series.
K.L. Rahul c Santner b Bennett 45
S.V. Samson c Santner b Kuggeleijn 2
R. G. Sharma retired hurt 60
S.S. Iyer not out 33
S. Dube c Bruce b Kuggeleijn 5
M.K. Pandey not out 11
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-6) 7
TOTAL (for three wkts, 20 overs) 163
FALL OF WKTS: 1-8, 2-96, 3-148.
DID NOT BAT: Washington Sundar, S.N. Thakur, Y.S. Chahal, N.A. Saini, J.J. Bumrah.
NOTE: Sharma retired hurt at 138-2.
BOWLING: Southee 4-0-52-0 (1w); Kuggeleijn
4-0-25-2 (1w); Bennett 4-0-21-1; Sodhi 4-0-28-0; Santner 4-0-36-0.
M.J. Guptill lbw b Bumrah 2
C. Munro b Sundar 15
T.L. Seifert c Samson b Saini 50
T.C. Bruce run out 0
L.R.P.L. Taylor c Rahul b Saini 53
D.J. Mitchell b Bumrah 2
M.J. Santner c Pandey b Thakur 6
S.C. Kuggeleijn c Sundar b Thakur 0
T.G. Southee b Bumrah 6
I.S. Sodhi not out 16
H.K. Bennett not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-3, NB-1) 5
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 20 overs) 156
FALL OF WKTS: 1-7, 2-17, 3-17, 4-116, 5-119, 6-131, 7-132, 8-133, 9-141.
BOWLING: Washington Sundar 3-0-20-1; Bumrah 4-0-12-3; Saini 4-0-23-2; Thakur 4-0-38-2 (2w); Chahal 4-0-28-0 (1w); Dube 1-0-34-0 (1nb).
RESULT: India won by seven runs to win five-match series 5-0.
UMPIRES: C.M. Brown (New Zealand) and S.B. Haig (New Zealand).
TV UMPIRE: A. Mehrotra (New Zealand).
MATCH REFEREE: B.C. Broad (England).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Jasprit Bumrah.
MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: K.L. Rahul.
FIRST MATCH: Auckland, India won by six wickets.
SECOND MATCH: Auckland, India won by seven wickets.
THIRD MATCH: Hamilton, match tied; India won one-over eliminator.
FOURTH MATCH: Wellington, match tied; India won one-over eliminator.