MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand — Master finisher Jasprit Bumrah took 3-12 from four overs as India beat New Zealand by seven runs in the fifth Twenty20 cricket international Feb. 2 to sweep the five-match series 5-0.
For the third match in a row, New Zealand seemed to be coasting to victory before India, led by Bumrah, dragged themselves back into the match and won in a gripping finish.
India made 163-3 batting first, a moderate total in good batting conditions, and New Zealand was 116-3 in the 13th over before it again self-destructed and lost six wickets for 40 runs to finish 156-9 after 20 overs.
The third and fourth matches were also New Zealand’s to win before India forced them into Super Overs then snatched victory in the tie-breakers.
New Zealand seemed even more well-placed to win Feb. 2 when Ross Taylor and Tim Seifert made half centuries in a 99-run partnership for the fourth wicket to put the home team in a commanding position.
Taylor made 53 in his 100th Twenty20 international as he moved closer to the milestone of becoming the first cricketer to play 100 matches in all three formats.
Seifert made his second consecutive half century after his 57 in the second match at Wellington which also lifted New Zealand to the brink of victory in that match.
But his dismissal for 50 in the 13th over signaled the beginning of the end for New Zealand.
Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner and Scott Kugeleijn followed quickly and when Taylor was out to the first ball of the 18th over, New Zealand’s hopes of a drought-breaking victory had ended.
New Zealand needed 24 off the last two overs and 20 from the last, far beyond the abilities of its tail-enders.
Ish Sodhi hit two sixes in the final over, bowled by Shadul Thakur, but New Zealand couldn’t reach its winning target.
“The match got close at one point but we had the belief in ourselves that we could squeeze in one or two good overs and the match could get close,” Bumrah said. “It was windy and we were trying to use the wind, use the longer side of the boundary and we had good communication out there.”
Rohit Sharma top-scored with 60 before retiring hurt as India, playing without captain Virat Kohli, batted first after winning the toss. K.L. Rahul made 45 to total more than 240 runs in the series.
“Obviously we were positive coming into the series because we had been playing good Twenty20 cricket,” Rahul said. “Against the West Indies and Bangladesh we did really, really well so we came into the series feeling positive and confident.”
“Every time we were put under pressure and every time there seemed like there were no answers we came up with the answers.”
New Zealand’s chase seemed a forlorn hope when it lost its first three wickets for just 17 runs but Taylor and Seifert put in on course to a convincing win. The match seemed to have tipped in New Zealand’s favor when it took 34 runs from the 10th over, bowled by Shivam Dube. But India pulled the match back with superb bowling by Bumrah, Navdeep Saini and Thakur.
“It’s another close one and unfortunately we’re on the wrong side,” New Zealand captain Tim Southee said. “But you give India a sniff, they’re a great side and they take it with both hands.”
The teams now meet in three one-day internationals starting Feb. 5 and two test matches.