While India comfortably won both the 1st and 2nd T20Is against New Zealand, the third match of the series proved to be an absolute nail-biter. Rohit Sharma made sure that Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson’s 95 went in vain as India won the match in the Super Over.
Put into bat, Indian opener Rohit Sharma looked determined to make up for failures in the first two T20Is. It was raining boundaries as the Hitman became the first Indian to hit a half-century inside the Powerplay in a T20I.
His dominance was apparent when he went from 24 to 50 off just 5 deliveries, each whacked to the boundary. Rohit also crossed 10,000 runs as an international opener.
KL Rahul at the other end was playing a sedate game - his innings coming to an end after making 27 off 19 balls. India at 89/1 in the ninth over.
Rohit Sharma’s innings was brought to an just a couple of overs later. Hamish Bennett dismissed the opener for 65 off 40 balls - his innings contained three sixes and six fours.
Virat Kohli contributed a solid 38 off 27 balls but Ish Sodhi (4-0-23-0), Colin de Grandhomme (2-0-13-1) and Bennett (4-0-54-3) managed to keep the Indian batsmen reasonably quiet. A couple of quick knocks at the end by Ravindra Jadeja (10* off 5 balls) and Manish Pandey (14* off 6 balls) pushed India to 179/5 in 20 overs.
The Kiwis came out determined to keep the series alive and Martin Guptill and Colin Munro began well.
Shardul Thakur struck in the sixth over, removing Guptill for 31 off 21 balls.
Munro, who has been struggling to pick up the pace, was the next to go in the very next over - dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja for 14 off 16 balls. New Zealand 52/2 in 6.2 overs.
That’s when skipper Kane Williamson took charge of proceedings. He showed the skill, the patience and the calmness that cricket fans around the world have come to associate with the Kiwi captain under pressure.
As wickets fell around him, Williamson never looked fazed as he raced to what seemed to be a certain match-winning century. But much to the heartbreak of all Kiwi fans, Mohd Shami struck when the skipper was on 95 off a mere 48 balls - the equation at this point was two needed off three balls. Williamson was so devastated at not carrying his team home that he didn’t even raise his bat as he walked back to the pavilion.
With three balls remaining in the innings, Shami showed his magic - he beat Tim Seifert twice with short and wide deliveries and then bowled Ross Taylor off the last ball of the match to force a tie and a Super Over.
Williamson came back onto the field to bat, partnered by Guptill with India’s bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah stepping up to bowl the over.
A six and a four by the Kiwi skipper and a boundary to end the over by Guptill meant that India needed 18 runs to win the match.
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul stepped up to the plate with Tim Southee taking on the bowling mantle for the Kiwis.
Managing only 3 runs off the first two balls, Rahul provided some relief with a boundary off the third ball.
When Rahul took a run off the fourth ball of the over, India needed 10 off two balls and it looked like the Kiwis would pull off a win that would keep the series alive.
But Rohit Sharma had other ideas. Consecutive sixes off the last two balls and the Hitman had taken India home to an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the 5-match T20I series.
"I think Rohit was outstanding today. The first half and the last two balls as well. We knew if he gets one hit then the bowler is under pressure. He is such a clean striker," said Kohli after the match.