Another Rahul fifty as India coast home in second T20I

Auckland (Agencies): With miserly bowling and another KL Rahul half-century, India again outclassed New Zealand as they coasted to a seven-wicket victory in the second Twenty20 Int’l (T20I) match in Auckland on Sunday to go 2-0 up in the series.

On the Eden Park ground renowned for its short boundaries — and which produced more than 400 runs in game one on Friday — New Zealand struggled with the bat and posted a meagre 132 for five, batting first against a disciplined Indian attack.

Rahul cracked his second half-century in as many matches to lead India’s reply in which they reeled in the target for the loss of only three wickets and with 15 balls to spare. “Another good performance today, especially with the ball,” said Indian skipper Virat Kohli who could scarcely contain his glee, exclaiming “oh happy days” when he lost the toss and heard New Zealand choose to bat first.

Bowling first was India’s strength, he said. “We demanded the bowlers stood up and took control of what we wanted to do out there, and our line and lengths… was a very good feature. Even with a low target to chase, India had an early blip when Tim Southee removed batsman Rohit Sharma for eight and Kohli for 11. But Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who set up India’s six-wicket win in game one, were rarely troubled in an 87-run partnership to ensure victory.

Iyer was eventually dismissed for 44 while Rahul was unbeaten on 57. Despite the comprehensive defeat for New Zealand, captain Kane Williamson stood by his decision to bat first. “India were outstanding with the ball so it was tough,” he said. “But there’ve been good bits in both of these games without putting it all together. “On a small ground we knew if we were able to take early wickets and try and build pressure, like they did, then you never know.”

For a brief moment at the start of the game, it looked as if Williamson may have made the right choice when Martin Guptill smacked sixes off consecutive deliveries from Shardul Thakur in the opening over. But for much of the remainder of the innings it was the Indian bowlers who were in charge. When Guptill was dismissed for 33 he had faced 20 deliveries and only scored off 10 of them. Tim Seifert (33 not out) and Colin Munro (26) were the only other batsmen to pass 20, while bowling for India, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja had figures of two for 18 off his four overs.

Jasprit Bumrah with one for 21 and Mohammed Shami with none for 22 off their four overs were also miserly. The third match in the series is in Hamilton on Wednesday.