Colin Munro    AFP
Colin Munro AFP

India needed 130 off 65 when MS Dhoni joined Virat Kohli. India had lost 4 wickets. Two of India s finest finishers were in the middle. Can these two rescue India? If they do, who will dominate more? Of course, they will run faster than a gush of win. Not many understand each others game like these two do. But how will they achieve it?

Dhoni likes to take it to the last over, but Kohli does not. Kohli has a range of shots, but Dhoni does not. What approach will they take? Kohli likes to attack straight away. Dhoni likes to take away the game before the opposition comprehends.

Dhoni hit two massive sixes, the one you can easily imagine obscuring in the orbit. Kohli was at his usual best. He reached his 18th fifty, also becoming the second highest-run scorer in the format. Those flicks and cover-drives remained on the fore even at crucial junctures. Dhoni meanwhile struggled, the kind his fans would not fancy. He managed to add more sixes towards the end, and barring those big ones, there was nothing for the spectators to cherish. He heaved and heaved harder, but the bat could only cut the air. The ball either hit the edges or missed them. The middle spot of the bat remained out of action.

Kohli, India s only hope, went back for 65 off 42. Mitchell Santer shortened his length when he saw Kohli shimming down. Dhoni gave his all to unleash the beast, but his 37-ball 49 could not take India home. New Zealand won the second T20I by 40 runs, squaring the three-match series.

Colin sprays sixes at Rajkot

Mohammed Siraj conceded a four off the very first ball in international cricket. New Zealand pushed him in further trouble, collecting 6 more runs in the over. Kohli replaced the debutant with Jasprit Bumrah. However, New Zealand came with an intention to go full throttle. Thinking a counterattack would outfox the opposition, Kohli passed the ball to Yuzvendra Chahal in the fifth over. Although Chahal had removed Guptill early in the previous match, the New Zealand opener blasted a hat-trick of boundaries.

Siraj was back in the eighth over. He hurled a variety of deliveries, but Colin Munro bludgeoned two sixes off the over. The scorecard read 68 for 0 after 8 overs.

The track had no iota of grass, although it sat amidst a lush green outfield.

India, however, would have sent Munro packing had Rohit Sharma taken more time to pick up the ball and throw it neatly to Dhoni who had to dive to collect it. Munro reached by the time Dhoni could get up and dislodge the bails.

Kohli tried Pandya, his sixth bowler. That did not bettered India s situation, either. Munro hit two boundaries off the over, taking his strike rate over 200. All the same, a breakthrough came from the unlikeliest of sources. After giving away 26 runs off the first 2 overs, Siraj had Williamson caught at deep mid-wicket. Although Siraj was costly, he must have heaved a sigh after getting his first international wicket.

That, or anything, did not affect Munro. He in fact got luckier when Chahal dropped him on 79. He added more salt to India s wounds by scoring his second hundred in the format. He took a mere 54 balls to reach the three-figure mark, also becoming the first cricketer to score a hundred against India in their own den. However, India pulled things back in the last 3 overs, leaking 22 runs. Bumrah was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4-0-23-0.

What went wrong for India?

Kohli promoted the newcomer Shreyas Iyer at No. 3, pushing himself at 4. Shreyas scythed his way to 23, playing those elegant late-cuts; but Shreyas succumbed to pressure when the boundaries became difficult to reach. With a six-bowler strategy, Dhoni batted at No. 6. Given the sheen has worn off, pushing him up the order would have given him more deliveries to settle down.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 196 for 2 (Colin Munro 109* (58); Yuzvendra Chahal 1 fo 36) beat India 156 for 7 (Virat Kohli 65; Trent Boult 4 for 34) by 40 runs.

Player of the Match: Colin Munro

Full scorecard