India beat New Zealand by six wickets off the penultimate ball of the match to win their second T20I in Lucknow.
It was a tense finish to what had been a low scoring match, and means that the teams are all level in their three match series (New Zealand had won the first game in Ranchi by 21 runs).
The match developed into a battle of spinners on a pitch that offered plenty of turn, and for the first ever time in a T20I played on Indian soil, not a single six was struck in the match.
In the end it was the experience of the pair of Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya that helped guide their side to victory.
Both teams were unchanged from Ranchi, India resisting the temptation to reintroduce Prithvi Shaw to international cricket.
New Zealand won the toss and decided to bat first, hoping to make the best of the difficult conditions.
However, they soon found themselves struggling, with both Finn Allen and the in-form Devon Conway out playing the reverse sweep. By the midway point of their innings, they had just 48 on the board, and four men already back in the pavilion.
The Indian bowlers meanwhile maintained their tight stranglehold on the scoring rate, and continued to chip away with regular wickets. In the end the best that New Zealand could manage from their 20 overs was 99/8, with Mitchell Santner top scoring for them with 19 not out.
Apart from Shivam Mavi, who was only given one over, all the Indian bowlers took at least one wicket.
On the face of it, needing just 100 to win, it should have been a straightforward run chase for the Indian team, but they made very heavy weather of it, as the New Zealand spinners enjoyed their own spell of dominance.
The top order trio of Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tripathi, were all guilty of trying to force the pace too much, and when Washington Sundar was run out in the 15th over, it set up a tense finish.
It was left to Suryakumar Yadav, recently voted the ICC T20I Player of the Year for 2022, to play an uncharacteristically controlled innings. He made 26 not out off 31 balls, the highest individual score of the match. He settled the contest with his only boundary of his innings, and his efforts were recognised with the Player of the Match award.
And with his captain Hardik Pandya giving him support at the other end, they were able to grind out the win. Pandya himself was undefeated on 15 at the end, with also one four to his name, after a finish that was a much closer than India would have liked at one stage.
Key talking points
There were 30 overs in all bowled by spinners in this match – 13 by India and 17 by New Zealand. That is not only a record in T20 cricket between the two nations, but also the second highest overall in the format of the game in international cricket.
The record remains then 33 overs of spin that were bowled between the Cayman Islands and the USA in 2019.
Chahal sets new record
Yuzvendra Chahal may only have been given two overs, but he still took the early wicket of opener Finn Allen whom he bowled for 11. That was enough to take him clear of Bhuveshwar Kumar, to become the most successful Indian bowler in T20I cricket.
He now has 91 wickets in 75 matches at an average of 24.68.
A better day for Arshdeep Singh
Pace bowler Arshdeep Singh, who has come under pressure lately for bowling too many no balls, had a better day at the office, even though he was only used in the death overs. Not only did he take 2 wickets, but they only came at a cost of seven runs, and his spell will be a boost to his confidence.
What happens next
The two teams will now head to Ahmedabad to play the 3rd T20I on Wednesday, February 1st, in a match that will decide the outcome of the series.
And with his captain Hardik Pandya giving him support at the other end, they were able to grind out the win. Pandya himself was undefeated on 15 at the end, after a finish that was a much closer than India would have liked at one stage.
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