Auckland: Opener Lokesh Rahul scored consecutive fifties as India took a 2-0 lead in their five-match series against New Zealand with a seven-wicket victory the second T20 international at Eden Park in Auckland Sunday. The third match between the two teams will be played in Hamilton on 29 January.
Rahul, who had scored 56 in the first T20I at the same venue, remained unbeaten on 57 with Shreyas Iyer also contributing with 44 runs. He put up an 86-run stand with Shreyas Iyer, who scored 44 off 33 balls, his innings punctuated three sixes and a four.
Chasing a modest 136, the Indians were jolted early with Tim Southee (2/20) removing Rohit Sharma (8) and Virat Kohli (11) early.
Spinners Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner then bowled some quiet overs to keep their chances afloat as India were 60/2 at the halfway stage.
But it was in the 15th over that Rahul cut loose to hit Hamish Bennett for 16 runs as New Zealand were made to pay for their two missed run out opportunities, the second of which came in the last ball of the over.
Rahul brought up his fifty with an aerial extra cover drive as he looked to extend his purple patch.
In the next over, Shreyas Iyer hit Blair Tickner for back-to-back four and a six to bring down the equation to 16 from 24 balls after the 16th over.
Iyer then dispatched Sodhi for another maximum in the 17th over before holing out to Southee.
The job was done though as India needed six off the last three overs and Shivam Dube (8 not out) completed the formalities with a six off Southee in the 18th over as the tourists won with 15 balls to spare.
Earlier, the Indian bowlers, led by Ravindra Jadeja, stifled New Zealand batters as they laboured to 132/5 in the allotted 20 overs.
Jadeja returned best figures of 2/18 in his quota of four overs as Jasprit Bumrah (1/21 in 4 overs), Shardul Thakur (1/21 in 2 overs) and Shivam Dube (1/16 in 2 overs) got one wicket apiece. Mohammed Shami was wicketless but gave away just 22 runs in his four overs and bowled superbly to deny Kiwis any advantage.
Tim Seifert (33 not out)and Martin Guptill (33) top-scored for the Black Caps.
Skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor failed to middle the ball and looked off colour after they asked India to field first.
Brief scores: India (KL Rahul 57 not out, Shreyas Iyer 44; Tim Southee 2/20) beat New Zealand 132/5 (Martin Guptill 33, Tim Seifert 33 not out, Ravindra Jadeja 2/18) by 7 wickets