With the two teams level at 1-1 in the series, it was the hosts who came out all guns blazing to post a daunting 212-4 in their 20 overs. The visitors battled hard with the bat in response but fell agonisingly short of the finish line in the end.
At the end of an enthralling encounter befitting the status of a decider, we take a look at the key talking points.
MUNRO COMES GOOD IN EXPLOSIVE START
All the pressure was on Colin Munro heading into the third T20 with the Kiwi opener struggling for runs to justify his place in the limited-overs set-up. With his back against the wall, Munro came out in determined fashion and calmly swatted away Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a huge six off the very first delivery.
It was just the pressure-relieving shot Munro needed with the southpaw growing in confidence as his innings progressed. With Tim Seifert for company, Munro helped New Zealand race away to 80 runs inside just eight overs with the small boundaries at Hamilton aiding some big shot-making.
Once Seifert fell for 43, Munro continued his carnage at a venue where he had struck a magnificent ton against England in the same format last year. The opener struck five sixes and as many boundaries before he was dismissed for a 40-ball 72 and by the team he departed, the Kiwi had laid the foundation of a big total.
ROHIT STRUGGLES BUT INDIA COME OUT FIRING
India’s chase of 213 got off to the worst possible start with Shikhar Dhawan falling to Mitchell Santner in the very first over. However, an inspired knock from Vijay Shankar helped India chug along in the chase with the all-rounder smashing 43 off 28 deliveries.
His crisp hitting helped the visitors overcome the struggles of Rohit Sharma at the other end with the stand-in skipper lacking any timing or conviction in his innings. Shankar fell in the eight over but Rishabh Pant kept up the assault with a 12-ball 28 before Hardik Pandya chipped in with an 11-ball 21.
The quick-fire cameos helped India keep up with the asking-rate for a long stretch but wickets kept falling at regular intervals to offset the balance.
Once Rohit’s suffering (38 off 32) was brought to an end by Santner, India lost the plot in the middle with Pandya and MS Dhoni departing in quick succession. It left the lower-order with too much to do in too little time.
KARTHIK AND KRUNAL TAKE IT DOWN TO THE WIRE
The procession of wickets in the middle-overs had brought down the equation for India to an almost improbable one with 68 runs required off the last 28 deliveries.
With just four wickets in hand for India, the hosts would have expected the job to be nearly done but they were given a mighty scare by Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya who turned the tide in spectacular fashion.
The duo smashed five sixes between themselves in the run-up to the final over with the equation coming down to 16 off six in the end. Unfortunately for the visitors, Karthik ran out of steam at the final with Tim Southee bowling an excellent final over for the hosts.
A six from Karthik off the last delivery of the innings proved only to be a consolation in the end as India were left wondering as to what might have been if not for the middle-order stumble.
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