THIRUVANANTHAPURAM— India beat New Zealand by six runs in a thrilling finish to win the third Twenty20 Nov. 7.

Chasing 68 in a series decider reduced by rain to eight overs per side, the Black Caps were restricted to 61-6.

India finished at 67-5 and won the three-match series 2-1, its first victory in a bilateral engagement in this format over New Zealand.

India also won the competitive one-day international series 2-1.

The persistent rain and a wet outfield delayed the start for almost three hours, but the sell-out crowd was given a treat at Greenfield International Stadium, which became the 50th venue in India to host international cricket.

Put into bat, India lost openers Shikhar Dhawan (6) and Rohit Sharma (8) cheaply off fast bowler Tim Southee (2-13).

Captain Virat Kohli (13) gave momentum to the innings but was caught in the deep off spinner Ish Sodhi (2-23).

Sodhi also accounted for Shreyas Iyer (6) in similar fashion. There were no big partnerships.

Manish Pandey (17) and Hardik Pandya (14 not out) helped to push India to what still seemed a sub-par score.

“We were really happy to get a game,” Kohli said. “Ever since the ODIs started, New Zealand have given us a good fight. So we were nervous to bat first here on a damp pitch. But it was a challenging score and we thought it was not going to be easy with a high asking rate.”

So it proved. New Zealand, too, lost openers Martin Guptill (1) and Colin Munro (7) cheaply, bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-18) and caught in the deep off Jasprit Bumrah (2-9) respectively.

“Slower deliveries were gripping as we saw in the first innings,” Bumrah, the top-ranked T20 bowler, said. “So that was the basic plan. We mixed them well with yorkers.”

Pandya ran out Kane Williamson (8) with a direct hit, and Glen Phillips (11) holed out off Kuldeep Yadav (1-10) on the very next ball as the Black Caps were reduced to 28-4.

The wickets of Henry Nicholls (2) and Tom Bruce (4) put the Black Caps in bad shape at 49-6.

Nineteen runs were needed off the last over with Colin de Grandhomme (17 not out) and Mitchell Santner (3 not out) at the crease. But Pandya (0-11) bowled a tight line.

 “It’s quite hard to know a good first innings score in this situation,” Williamson said. “Runs on board on a tricky surface came in handy for India. We showed good fight throughout this tour. It is a tough place to play and there have been a number of strides forward for us.”

India next has a three-test series against Sri Lanka, beginning in Kolkata Nov. 16.

New Zealand hosts the West Indies in a two-test series, starting in Wellington on Dec. 1.

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