New Zealand today snatched a dramatic last-ball victory in the second Twenty20 cricket match to clinch the series 2-0 against India, who very nearly pulled off an incredible win in the dying moments of the thriller.
Chasing a modest 150 to win, the hosts were cruising along comfortable before the Indians changed the complexion of the game with some tidy spin bowling and Irfan Pathan's double strike in the 18th over.
Needing 12 runs off Pathan's last over, the Kiwis rode on Brendon McCullum's unbeaten 69 to scrape through to record their third consecutive victory against the world champions The home team won the thrilling match by five wickets.
The result of the ding-dong battle at Westpac stadium could have been different had substitute fielder Rohit Sharma latched on to a difficult catch off McCullum, which would have carried the game to the eliminator stage.
Put into bat, India's formidable batting failed to click for the second time on the trot, leaving New Zealand with a
fairly simple task of scoring 7.50 runs per over.
Only Yuvraj Singh hit 50 off 34 balls and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (28 not out) and Virender Sehwag (24) were the other notable contributors. The New Zealand run chase began with a flourish with McCullum and Jesse Ryder (26) putting on a brisk 53-run partnership.
Ryder hoicked Irfan Pathan for a six in the very first ball and then hit Zaheer Khan for two fours in the next over as he played a cameo off 15 balls before being dismissed by Khan. Indians were lucky to have their second wicket when Kiwi umpire Gary Baxter adjudged dangerous Martin Guptill (10) leg before off Harbhajan Singh despite a big inside edge.
Guptill went for a pull, missed the shot and Indians made a furious appeal. Baxter had a long look at it and surprised everyone by raising his finger, upholding the appeal. Ravinder Jadeja, who replaced Rohit Sharma in the side, bowled in tandem with Harbhajan to put brakes on the Kiwi scoring rate.
With the spinners drying up the runs, the game gradually tilted towards India after Pathan's twin blows left the home team with a difficult task of scoring 23 runs off 12 balls. Pathan dismissed Taylor and Jacob Oram (0) on consecutive balls at the start of the 18th over, setting up an exciting climax to the match.