India have Rohit Sharma to thank after his consecutive sixes in the final two balls of the thrilling Super Over led India to their maiden T20I series win in New Zealand following a nerve-wracking finish in the third match at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Wednesday.

Needing 18 off six balls in the Super Over, India had managed just 10 off the first four balls. Then, Rohit, who smashed 65 off 40, smacked two big hits, one over mid-wicket and the other over long off, to help India pull off a nail-biter.

“In the super over, New Zealand again put pressure on us. But Rohit was outstanding today, in the first half and in the super over. We knew, if he gets one hit, the bowler will be under pressure because he is such a clean striker of the cricket ball. Overall a top day for us and a beautiful game to be a part of. When Shami bowled those two dot balls, I thought we could probably go to the super over, if we get a wicket,” captain Virat Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

“In the super over, the discussion was that New Zealand will be feeling the pressure as they let the game slip away. Kane came out and played a couple of brilliant shots against Bumrah who is one of the best death-over bowlers in World Cricket. It was just a see-saw game. We will try to win 5-0. There are a couple of guys who are sitting out like Sundar and Saini, they deserve to get a game. The idea is to win the remaining two games.”

Before the Super Over, New Zealand had it all under control with two runs needed off four balls and six wickets in hand to overhaul India’s 179 for five. However, the hosts threw it away from a comfortable position as Mohammed Shami bowled a brilliant death over to tie the game, stretching it to a Super Over, bringing back memories of the 2019 World Cup final which New Zealand agonisingly lost to England on boundary count.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson did all he could, both in the run chase (95 off 48 balls) and the Super Over (11), but it did not prove to be enough to get his team over the line in a must-win game.

It was Williamson’s highest T20 score as the Black Caps scored 179-6 (20 overs) in reply to India’s 179-5 (20 overs). Rohit’s 65 off 40 balls had propelled the visitors after they were put into bat.

“I thought we were gone at one stage. I told our coach that they probably deserved to finish the game off with the way Kane batted and the way he led from the front. We got a wicket at a crucial stage. Shami again, showed his experience and put a couple of balls outside the off-stump. On the last ball, we had a discussion and we came to a conclusion that we had to hit the stumps because otherwise there is a single anyway and we are gonna lose the game. Shami went for it, got the wicket and the game turned on its head,” Kohli recalled.

India’s first T20 series in New Zealand came after a 1-2 loss to the Black Caps almost 12 months ago.