Kiwis steal one-run win over India

McCullum stars with blistering 91.

The Clash of Titans!

Scorecard | Action in images

Brendan McCullum (91) and James Franklin (two for 26) helped New Zealand preserve their perfect Twenty20 record against India with a one-run win in the second encounter at Chepauk here, on Tuesday.

McCullum’s late charge powered the Kiwis to 167-5 after MS Dhoni elected to field, and allowed left-arm seamer Franklin to scupper India’s chase from a comfortable position where they needed 49 to win off the last seven overs, eight wickets in hand. Franklin was supported by Kyle Mills (3-0-17-2) who later left the field after a horrible collision with McCullum going for a catch.

New Zealand have now beaten India in all the four Twenty20 Internationals that the countries have played, and claimed this two-match series 1-0 after the first game at Vizag was washed out without a a ball bowled.

On Tuesday, Virat Kohli (70) replaced Virender Sehwag at the top of the order and set India's chase rolling with a pacy half-century, adding 60 with Suresh Raina (27) after Gautam Gambhir was out cheaply - to a tame return chip off Kyle Mills.

Raina’s dismissal cleared the scene for comeback man Yuvraj Singh (34) who showed glimpses of his old imperiousness. The left-hander, playing his first international since recovering from cancer, partnered Kohli  for 34 runs.

Boundaries arrived in torrents through the off-side as Kohli was quick to seize upon any lapses in line. One such hit – an inside-out chip to the deep extra cover fence – gave the Delhi batsman his half-century. Kohli looked good to guide India home, when he was out to a brilliant catch by Tim Southee as he tried to clear the off-side against Franklin.

India  needed 48 in 36 balls, with Yuvraj and new man Dhoni struggling to keep up with the required rate.
Yuvraj was dropped when his skier resulted in a bad collision between Kyle Mills and McCullum, with the former leaving the field for treatment.

Dhoni slammed a boundary off Franklin in the 18th over to relieve the tension, and with 20 needed off 8 balls, Yuvraj biffed a six off Oram in the 19th over to keep India in the hunt.

Thirteen were needed in the last over, to be bowled by Franklin. Dhoni stole a four on the second ball, and Franklin erred with a wide on the third. But when a back-of-the-hand slower ball cleaned up Yuvraj, India were pegged back, ending on 166-4 to lose by a solitary run.

Earlier, McCullum’s blistering 91 salvaged New Zealand from two down in the second over to a competitive 167. McCullum was supported by Kane Williamson (28) and skipper Ross Taylor (25), and it was his relentless series of hits late in the innings that carried the Kiwis to respectability, after Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan had begun with tight opening spells.

Openers Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill were bowled by in-swingers from Zaheer and Irfan and McCullum endured a watchful phase against the two left-arm seamers, before cutting loose in the fifth over with fours off the India spearhead.

On 38, the Kiwi escaped a close leg-before call as he went for a reverse-sweep against R. Ashwin, and then went after the off-spinner. Ashwin, chosen ahead of Harbhajan Singh, conceded 34 in his three overs.

McCullum was nine short of what would have been his second Twenty20 hundred when he was bowled by Irfan in the 17th over. But Ross Taylor and Oram ensured that New Zealand’s last flourish added a good 25 to the total.