Despite the absence of skipper Kane Williamson, New Zealand have given themselves a decent chance to register the first win of the T20I series. New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi picked up 3/26, exposing the inexperienced Indian batting line-up which was without Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. But Manish Pandey struck a resilient half-century and held one end to lift India to 164/8 from a precarious 84/5.

Stand-in captain Tim Southee showed no hesitation in bowling first. Sanju Samson, opening the innings, showed ominous signs slapping a six off Scott Kuggeleijn, but his joy didn’t last as he perished to a good catch from Mitchell Santner. KL Rahul took over and gave Indian an early impetus. Kuggeleijn was erratic, conceding a free hit for the Indian opener to go big.

Virat Kohli introduced Hamish Bennett with back-to-back boundaries but the knuckle ball next up did the trick. Kohli, trying to work the ball on the onside, offered a leading edge for Santner to take his second catch. Despite India brining up the 50 in five overs, the spinners tied them down. Sodhi dismissed a scratchy-looking Iyer out caught behind and got the big wicket of KL Rahul, who didn’t get the timing right behind his pull and found the deep midwicket fielder Santner, who took his third catch.

Shivam Dube walked ahead of Manish Pandey, and when he struck back to back boundaries off Kuggeleijn, the call seemed a sensible one. But once again, a poor shot selection led to an Indian batsman’s demise. Dube mistimed a slog sweep and holed out to Tom Bruce at long on even with a slight collision.

Washington Sundar was knocked over by Santner, before India finally found a partnership going. Shardul Thakur and Manish Pandey saw off the spin threat and decided to go after in the last five overs. Both added 43 off 29 to put India somewhat back on track. The scoring rate reached more than eight an over, with Pandey and Thakur getting three entertaining boundaries between them.

Thakur cleared the front leg and swung his bat for a boundary on the up but Bennett once again scored with the knuckle ball two balls later, and when Tim Southee snuffed out Yuzvendra Chahal caught behind, India looked in danger of getting bowled out. But Navdeep Saini’s two fours in three balls to get India over 150. Pandey struck a boundary off the first ball of the final over and he and Saini collected seven off the final five.