Ranchi, Nov 19 (PTI) India rode on a tight bowling display by the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel to stymie New Zealand's explosive start and restrict the visitors to a modest 153 for six in the second T20 International here on Friday.
In a must-win match for the Kiwis, who are trailing 0-1 in the three-match series, Martin Guptill (31 off 15 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (31 off 28 balls) took the Indian pacers to the cleaners after being put into bat.
Cruising at 64 for one in the powerplay, the Kiwis suddenly hit a roadblock in the crucial middle overs and managed just 64 runs from 7 to 16 overs with Ashwin (1/19) and Axar (1/26) dominating the New Zealand batters in the dew-laden condition.
Skipper Rohit Sharma cleverly used Ashwin and Axar in the middle overs to restrict the run flow.
Ashwin was simply sensational with his variations as the New Zealand batters found it difficult to go after him.
Axar got the wicket of Mark Chapman, fresh from a half-century in Jaipur as the left-hander failed to clear the long-on boundary.
The duo's remarkable effort in the middle gave the pace attack some respite and newcomer Harshal Patel, who made his T20I debut four days shy of his 31st birthday, returned with impressive figures of 2 for 25.
Two days after his tidy display in Jaipur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded 37 runs from his first three but made it up in his final over, giving away just two runs and also took the vital wicket of Jimmy Neesham that further pegged the Kiwis back.
The Kiwis were off to a flier in the powerplay with Guptill smashing his way to a 15-ball 31 (2x6s, 3x4s) after being dropped on eight.
That innings saw Guptill (3231 runs) surpass star Indian batsman Virat Kohli (3227) as the leading run-getter in T20 Internationals.
Guptill smashed Bhuvenshwar for back-to-back boundaries but there was an opportunity in the fourth ball when he mishit over the long-off region.
KL Rahul made a terrific attempt running backwards and nearly got hold of the ball before it slipped out of his hands.
After conceding 14 runs in his first over, Bhuvneshwar gave away 13 in his next over with Guptill smacking him over his head for a six.
Mitchell also joined the party as the visitors cruised to 42 from the first overs.
Deepak Chahar finally gave India the breakthrough before the spin duo of Axar and Ashwin restricted the flow of runs. (PTI)