Rishabh Pant (40* off 28) and MS Dhoni (20* off 15) laid the finishing touches to the run chase as the duo made 44 runs for the unconquered fourth wicket in the 2nd T20I against New Zealand. @ BCCI

India avenged their record 80-run defeat in the series opener and romped home to a thumping seven-wicket win in the second Twenty20 International against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

Chasing a modest 159-run target, stand-in captain Rohit Sharma finally find form and blazed away to a brilliant half century – his 16th T20I fifty – as India romped home with seven balls to spare and level the three-match series 1-1. Rohit’s took his career tally in the format to 2,288 runs, overtaking New Zealand’s Martin Guptill on 2,272.

“Must give credit to Rohit Sharma for his batting as well as his captaincy. There was lot of improvement in the team from the previous game, the bowling changes were spot on and the bowlers themselves did their job perfectly,” veteran India offspinner Harbhajan Singh told India Today. (ALSO READ: Rohit Sharma becomes highest run-getter in T20Is)

“I have run out of adjectives to praise Rohit Sharma’s batting. He doesn’t get affected by pace, there was swing as well today and there was bounce too. Rohit batted masterfully and gave India the perfect start.”

India cruised to victory after a flying start, courtesy Rohit. Shikhar Dhawan struggled for his 30 off 31, but Rishabh Pant (40* off 28) and MS Dhoni (20* off 15) laid the finishing touches to the run chase as the duo made 44 runs for the unconquered fourth wicket. Pant was much more aggressive among the two smashing four boundaries and one six, while Dhoni registered just the solitary boundary. (ALSO READ: We have quality in our side: Rohit Sharma)

Harbhajan heaped praise on Pant for making use of the opportunity of batting along Dhoni. “Rishabh Pant made full use of his opportunity today while batting with MS Dhoni. When he hit a few casual shots, Dhoni walked up to him and explained what he needed to do. After that he played safer shots, down the ground and hit only the balls which were there to be hit,” he said. (ALSO READ: MS Dhoni’s presence in World Cup important for decision-making: Yuvraj Singh)

“Every opportunity will take Pant closer to the ICC World Cup 2019 squad, especially if he continues to keep scoring like this. I fell he has that X factor which India will need in the World Cup. Pant is someone who can change games.”

Krunal Pandya, who was the pick of the bowlers with three for 28 in his four overs, came under high praise from Harbhajan. Batting first, the Black Caps were reduced to 50/4 in the eighth over with Krunal accounting for three of the four wickets. “In my opinion, the bowlers should get the credit for the win. The way they bowled, Krunal Pandya made a brilliant effort,” he said.

Asked who will win the series in the decider on Sunday at Seddon Park in Hamilton, Harbhajan said: “Now, the series is becoming fun as it is levelled. If India will play cricket like this in Hamilton, they will the series 2-1.”