(Reuters) - Colin Munro struck a 40-ball 72 as New Zealand pipped India by four runs in the third and final Twenty20 international at Hamilton to seal a 2-1 series victory on Sunday.
Dropped for the opening two one-day internationals of New Zealand’s upcoming series against Bangladesh, Munro responded in defiant fashion to help the hosts post a commanding 212 for four wickets after the hosts were asked to bat first.
A 75-run partnership for the second wicket between stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma and Vijay Shankar put India in a strong position but their middle-order failed to capitalise and the tourists finished with 208 for six in 20 overs.
“It was touch and go, but the boys did well to finish it off,” man-of-the-match Munro said. “I came out nice and free, tried to play my game and put pressure on the bowlers. Had my luck, it went my way.”
Munro, who was dropped twice, smashed five boundaries and as many sixes in the company of fellow opener Tim Seifert to lay the foundation for a big total.
Man-of-the-series Seifert, whose big hitting helped inflict an 80-run defeat on India in the opening match, made 43 off 25 balls before being dismissed, but steady contributions by the Kiwi middle order helped them post a big total.
Dinesh Karthik (33 not out) and all-rounder Krunal Pandya (26 not out) flexed their muscles towards the end but could not get India, who needed 16 off the last over, over the finish line.
“Both teams put in strong performances, we did slightly better,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said.
“We travel-train-play and straight into the next series against Bangladesh, that’s the nature of international cricket but the guys are looking forward to it.”
India earlier won the one-day international series 4-1 and Rohit said there were positives despite defeat in the T20s.
“It would have been nice to fly back with a series win, but yes, lot of positives through the tour, looking forward to heading home and playing Australia,” he said.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty