India crush Kiwis in final T20I, sweep series

Team India
It was a series to remember for Rohit Sharma & Co. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

Kolkata: Rohit Sharma batted in style and led with panache to script a near perfect tale on his full-time captaincy debut as India handed T20 World Cup runners-up New Zealand the ignominy of a 3-0 series defeat after a 73-run win in the third T20 International here on Sunday.

The Indian skipper first made a statement scoring 56 off 31 balls in India's 184/7 and then made some immaculate captaincy calls which witnessed New Zealand's surrender for a paltry 111 in 17.2 overs. Martin Guptill made a fine 51.

It was a second back-to-back bilateral T20I series triumph with a clean sweep for India after beating the Black Caps 5-0 in their own den in 2020.

Axar Patel
Axar Patel, left, celebrates with Harshal Patel after taking a wicket. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

Axar Patel (3/9) bowled accurately and also got one to turn as his three wickets in the powerplay literally ended New Zealand's resistance and the rest was a mere formality.

The New Zealand team looked bone tired after a gruelling T20 World Cup campaign and the result won't be a fair reflection of the team's capabilities as they went through the motions for the better part of the three games.

For India, who were aiming to reset the button, the series win will certainly give them a few pointers going forward.

For Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid, this series was about checking what kind of ammunition they have going forward.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin's return to form in white-ball cricket augurs well as there is no substitute for experience.

Venkatesh Iyer has shown potential and needs to be persisted with. He bowled steadily and needs more game time to become a middle-order enforcer having been a top-order player.

Harshal Patel is a welcome addition with his sincere efforts but the middle order still remains a bit iffy as it didn't perform up to expectation in any of the games.

A few like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Avesh Khan went untested but the skipper will surely use all his options going forward.

But what he has shown like his predecessor Virat Kohli is ability to walk the talk with performances that his mates will look up to.

Rohit Sharma
Indian captain Rohit Sharma en route to his fifty. Photo: Twitter/ICC

When India batted, Rohit's imperious form was on full display as he laid the platform for an above par score.

In his bid to test the team's character by batting first, the skipper led the way with five fours and three sixes in his sublime knock but despite a blazing start, the Indians stuttered in the middle overs before Harshal (18 off 11 balls) and Deepak Chahar (21 not out off 8 balls) used their long handles which fetched 50 runs in last five overs.

Ishan Kishan (29 off 21 balls), Shreyas Iyer (25 off 20 balls) and Venkatesh (20 off 15 balls) all got starts but couldn't convert it into a big score.

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