India skipper Hardik Pandya said “attack was the best defence on this wicket” as his unbeaten 18-ball 30-run cameo helped India end the rain-hit final T20I against New Zealand in a tie via Duckworth-Lewis method here on Tuesday.
Chasing 161 to win, India were struggling at 21 for three in 2.5 overs but Pandya smashed three boundaries and a six to take the visitors to 75 for four, which proved to be at par with the DLS score when the match was called off due to rain.
The two teams thus shared the honours with India clinching the three-match series 1-0, courtesy their 65-run win in the second game on Sunday.
The opening game was washed out without a ball being bowled in Wellington.
“Would have liked to win the game by playing the full overs, but it is what it is. At some point, I felt attack is the best defence on this wicket,” Hardik said during the post-match presentation.
“We know the kind of bowling attacks they have, it was very important to get those 10-15 runs extra even though we lost a couple of wickets.
“A game like this could have given us an opportunity to test some of the players, but having said weather is something we cannot control. I’m going home, taking my time off and be with my son.” New Zealand were 130 for two in the 16th over but the duo of Arshdeep Singh (4/37) and Mohammed Siraj (4/17) triggered a collapse as the Kiwis were bowled out for 160 with two balls to spare.
Defending the total, New Zealand reduced India to 21 for 3 in 2.5 overs.
New Zealand’s stand-in skipper Tim Southee admitted his team could have done better with the bat but lauded the bowlers for taking three quick wickets.
“It’s disappointing even with the bat. We spoke about getting out there and and giving everything we could, take early wickets. We knew if we can get those wickets, anything could happen, but unfortunately the weather came in,” said Southee, who claimed 2 for 27 in his three overs.
“You don’t know until both sides batted on it, would have been an interesting game but hasn’t gone the full tilt. Little bit of uncertainty around the scoreboard whether it was a tie when the rain came in. Could have gone either way, “The way we attacked with the ball and to put them under pressure was pleasing. Nice to be back in some ODI cricket against a quality side like India. Hoping for a good crowd in Auckland.”
Siraj, who was adjudged the Player of the Match, for snapping 4 for 17 runs, said he was rewarded for bowling hard lengths.
“The wicket wasn’t easy to bat and I was prepared to bowl hard lengths which gave me the rewards. I prepared myself to bowl hard lengths and had so much practice during World Cup and I just executed my plans.
“I always keep it simple. Just bowl the hard lengths. The weather is not in our hands, happy with the series win.” Suryakumar Yadav, who had scored an unbeaten 111-run knock in the opening T20, won the Player of the Series.
“Really happy with the way things went till now, would have loved to have a full game here and as Siraj said the weather is not in our hands,” he said.
“The pressure is always there and at the same time I’m enjoying my batting, just going there and expressing myself. Not carrying any baggage out there.
“The intent and approach will remain the same. We can just go out and express ourselves.” India and New Zealand will now play the three-match ODI series, beginning with the opening match on Friday.