The newly-appointed captain-coach duo of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid took off with a series sweep against New Zealand on Sunday. Team India registered a clinical 73-run win over the Black Caps in the third and the final T20I in Kolkata to affect a whitewash. Eventually, it turned out to be India’s biggest win against the Kiwis in the shortest format of the game in terms of margin of runs. India set a challenging target of 185 runs for the Kiwis after opting to bat first. In the absence of KL Rahul, it was Ishan Kishan who accompanied his captain, Rohit Sharma, to open the innings.
The duo went off to a flying start, stitching a 69 run opening stand before stand-in New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner launched his wicket-taking juggernaut. The left-arm spinner struck twice in his opening over and took down the likes of Ishan (29) and Suryakumar Yadav (0). Santner’s next victim was Rishabh Pant who holed out to James Neesham in an attempt to slog sweep. Amid the regular fall of wickets, it was Rohit Sharma who batted in style and led with panache. He made a statement scoring 56 off 31 balls, leading the way with five fours and three sixes in his sublime knock.
He didn’t allow the fall of wickets to bog him down as he got his fifty with a deliberate cut through the vacant third-man area off his opposite number. His sequence of scores in the last six T20 Internationals is 74, 30, 56, 48, 55, and 56 and captaincy hasn’t changed his style of play one bit. It took a brilliant one-handed reflex catch from Ish Sodhi to dismiss Rohit. Sodhi tried to bowl wide off Rohit’s reach but gave enough air, which enticed him to give the charge without getting to the pitch of the delivery.
The Indians stuttered in the middle overs before Harshal Patel (18 off 11 balls) and Deepak Chahar (21 not out off 8 balls) used their long handles which fetched 50 runs in the last five overs. In reply, Axar Patel (3/9) bowled accurately and also got one to turn as his three wickets in Powerplay literally ended New Zealand’s resistance and the rest was a mere formality. Despite a fine knock from Martin Guptill (51), the visitor’s surrender for a paltry 111 runs in 17.2 overs. The New Zealand team looked bone-tired after a grueling T20 World Cup campaign and the result won’t be a fair reflection of the team’s capabilities as they went through the motions for the better part of the three games.
India romped to a 73-run victory as head coach Rahul Dravid began his tenure with a 3-0 series sweep. Home captain Rohit Sharma smashed 56 off 31 balls to fire the hosts to a strong 184-7 in the dead rubber at Eden Gardens. Martin Guptill made a breezy 51 but New Zealand, runners-up at the recent Twenty20 World Cup, were all out for 111 in the 18th over. Opting to bat, India plundered 69 runs off the first six overs and, after a mid-innings blip, 50 of the last five to post a strong total. Having taken over as India’s 20-overs captain after Virat Kohli relinquished the role following the World Cup, Rohit combined with Ishan Kishan (29) to give India a flying start.
Mitchell Santner (3-27) dismissed Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in the same over and then Ish Sodhi took a sharp return catch from Rohit to bring some relief for the tourists. India accelerated in the last five overs with Deepak Chahar providing the late assault with 21 off eight balls. When they returned to defend the total, spinner Axar Patel (3-9) removed Daryl Mitchell and Mark Chapman in the same over to rattle New Zealand. It was a second back-to-back bilateral T20I series triumph with a clean sweep for India after beating the Black Caps 5-0 in their own den in 2020.