New Zealand clinch series after a thrilling 5-wicket win

New Zealand today snatched a dramatic last-ball victory in the second Twenty20 cricket match to clinch the series 2-0 against India, who very nearly pulled off an incredible win in the dying moments of the thriller, reports Anand Vasu.
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Updated on Mar 01, 2009 06:19 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByAnand Vasu, Wellington

Ehen they get things right India are a tough side to beat. But New Zealand, especially at home, have many similar qualities, and for the second time running, made much fewer errors and reaped the rewards.

It was a last-ball thriller in front of 21,537 but New Zealand had their nose in front for all 40 overs bar the short time when Yuvraj Singh worked his magic. India, once again asked to bat first, failed to put together partnerships and only managed 149, a score that will be chased nine times out of ten.

Virender Sehwag got a start once more but an ambitious shot cut him down on 29. Suresh Raina tried to do too much too early and followed his unbeaten half-century with a duck. When Yuvraj and Mahendra Singh Dhoni came together, India were 47 for 3 and in serious danger of repeating the mistakes of the first game.

But Yuvraj, who started unusually slowly, began to hit the high notes, timing the ball sweetly on both sides of the wicket. Dhoni, much like the other Indian batsmen save Yuvraj, struggled for timing and New Zealand's bowlers kept the pressure up. Yuvraj, who had raced to 50 off only 33 balls, with four mighty sixes, fell against the run of play, caught on the ropes by Jacob Oram.

From then on the Indian innings was an exercise in tedium, with the runs coming at ODI rather than T20 pace. Vettori, deploying considerable skill and experience, got through his four overs conceding only 21. A measure of just how the Indians struggled was that four overs from part timer Jesse Ryder cost only 18 runs.

Set 150 to win, it would have taken a miracle or a downright atrocious performance from New Zealand for the series to be levelled. Neither happened, and India’s cause wasn't helped by a shoulder injury to Ishant Sharma that only allowed him to bowl half his quota of overs. Even when impatient fans - some of whom had helped themselves to copious quantities of beer- threw empty bottles down onto the field McCullum's confidence could not be broken.

With McCullum (69*) steering the ship there was little reason to panic and even a tight spell from Harbhajan (4-0-15-1) and an equally intelligent one from Ravindra Jadeja (4-0-21-0) only delayed the inevitable.

When Irfan Pathan began the final over with the McCullum brothers at the crease, 12 runs were needed. Three perfectly pitched yorkers yielded as many runs and the fourth ball, a full toss, was swatted for four to midwicket.

The fifth ball was struck powerfully back down the ground and scores were level. With the field brought up, all Brendon had to do was clear the infield and he managed with a mis-hit pull despite a despairing dive from substitute fielder Rohit Sharma. The T20 champions of the world had been vanquished once more, but at least this time the game had gone right down to the wire.

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