With the series squared up at one apiece, India and New Zealand moved to Thiruvananthapuram for the decider. To everyone’s disappointment, rain played spoilsport and delayed the toss for more than 2 hours. Finally, the rain gods relented and the match was curtailed to 8 overs per side.
The Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson won yet another toss on the trip and decided to bowl first. It was a predictable move given the curtailed match offers more chances to the chasing team. Trent Boult bowled a terrific first over as he swung the ball miles and ended up conceding just 7 runs.
Mitchell Santner came in to bowl the 2nd over and began with a delivery that turned square. The nature of the pitch was revealed at that moment. The Indian openers struggled to time the ball, and run-making was extremely difficult. Tim Southee realized the worth of bowling slower ones and removed both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in the 3rd over as India were left struggling at 18/2.
Virat Kohli then smacked Ish Sodhi for a four and a six to up the ante but later in the over, fell to the leg-spinner for 13. Manish Pandey, who was slotted in at No.5, provided the much-needed impetus to the innings with a four and a six against the spinners. Shreyas Iyer, who was having a hard time in the middle, was dismissed by Sodhi as the score read 50/4 after 6 overs.
Hardik Pandya slammed Santner for a six in the penultimate over as a total of 11 runs were collected to take the score to 61/4. Pandey, who had batted well until that point, became a victim of a tremendous catch courtesy the efforts of Santner and Colin de Grandhomme. Boult went for just 6 runs from the last over as India’s innings ended at 67/5 after 8 overs.
In reply, Martin Guptill collected a single off the first ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar but the bowler was greeted with a massive six off the next ball from the centurion of the last game – Colin Munro. What seemed like a good start for the visitors, was spoiled by a slower one from Bhuvneshwar that knocked Guptill over off the last ball of the over.
Jasprit Bumrah removed the dangerous Munro in the next over courtesy a superb diving catch by Rohit Sharma. Yuzvendra Chahal bowled a wonderful 3rd over to tighten the screws and halted the score to 16/2 after 3 overs. Kohli brought in Bhuvneshwar in the 4th over but a couple of boundaries off the bat of Glenn Phillips made it 10 from the over to keep the Black Caps interested.
Kuldeep Yadav came into the attack in the 5th over as the game hung in balance. Williamson found it hard to get going and his stay at the crease was ended by a direct hit from Pandya as the skipper had to walk back for 8 off 10. To make the matters worse for New Zealand, Phillips was caught at the boundary line by Dhawan for 11. But de Grandhomme struck a six off the last ball of the over to swing the game back in his team’s favor.
Chahal then conceded only 3 runs from the 6th over and didn’t allow the Kiwis to go for the big shots. Bumrah then got Nicholls out off the first ball of the penultimate over to make it ever so difficult for the visitors. The over then had a single, a boundary, a couple of wides and a single and all the making of a thriller. Bruce, in the hunt for running for an overthrow, found himself short at the striker’s end. A single off the last ball made the equation of 19 from the last over.
Hardik Pandya, for the first time, had the ball in hand with 19 in the bag. Off the first 2 balls, he conceded just a single. But de Grandhomme smashed a six over square leg to bring it down to 12 from 3. A wide followed by a run and 10 runs were needed from 2 balls. Santner connected the second last ball but could get only a couple to long on. Pandya ensured a legal last delivery when 8 were required and won the game for India by 6 runs and the series 2-1.
New Zealand won the toss and opted to bowl first
India: 67/5 in 8 overs
Manish Pandey 17, Hardik Pandya 14*
Ish Sodhi 23/2, Tim Southee 13/2
New Zealand: 61/6 in 8 overs
Colin de Grandhomme 17*, Glenn Phillips 11
Jasprit Bumrah 9/2, Kuldeep Yadav 10/1
India won by 6 runs (Match was reduced to 8 overs a side due to rain)
Player of the Match: Jasprit Bumrah