Colin Munro's mega-knock enough to beat India as New Zealand seal T20 series win

Colin Munro's explosive 72 set up a four-run win for New Zealand over India in a cliff-hanger finish to Sunday's Twenty20 match in Hamilton. (AP)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Colin Munro's mega-knock enough to beat India as New Zealand seal T20 series win

HAMILTON: Colin Munro's explosive 72 set up a four-run win for New Zealand over India in a cliff-hanger finish to Sunday's Twenty20 match in Hamilton, handing the hosts a 2-1 series victory.
India looked to be on the ropes when they needed 47 off the last three overs.
But Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya together plundered 32 off overs 18 and 19 before Tim Southee restricted the duo to 11 in the last over.
"It was obviously touch-and-go there for us," said Munro whose whirlwind knock at the start of the match laid the platform for New Zealand's 212 for four with India 208 for six at the close.
The morale-boosting victory for New Zealand gave captain Kane Williamson something to smile about after they were whipped 4-1 by India in the earlier one-day international series.
"It came down to the last couple of balls and it's nice to come out on the right side," he said.
It was a more sombre mood in the India dressing after Rohit Sharma had won the toss and defied convention by not batting first in a series decider, saying his team preferred to chase regardless.
"It was pretty disappointing to not get over that finishing line but I thought we fought really well till the end," he said.
"We started off really well with the ODI series and we wanted to do well here with the T20."
It was a vital knock from Munro, whose position in the New Zealand side ahead of the World Cup had been in question after a string of failures in the ODI and Twenty20 matches against India.
But he was on song from the start of the decider, charging down the track to smack Bhuvneshwar Kumar over the rope with the first ball he faced to kick off a flying partnership with Tim Seifert.
The pair raced to 80 in the eighth over when the lightning hands of MS Dhoni had Seifert stumped by a hair's breadth for 43.
Munro's belligerence saw him face just 40 balls in his innings, flaying the bowling with five fours and five sixes. He was removed by Kuldeep Yadav when he skied a ball to Hardik Pandya running in from long-on.
Kane Williamson (27) fell in the next over when he pulled a rising delivery from Khaleel Ahmed to Yadav at fine leg.
Colin de Grandhomme chimed in with 30 off 16 to ensure New Zealand passed the critical 200 mark for the second time in the series.
Vijay Shankar took an equally aggressive stance at the start of India's chase and the visitors were up at the required run rate through the first half of their innings, but were unable to establish partnerships.
Rishabh Pant belted a four and two sixes with his first three scoring shots and raced to 28 off 12 before he became debutant Blair Tickner's first victim, swiping at a full toss that was caught at mid-wicket.
Sharma made 38, Hardik Pandya's brief cameo produced 21 while MS Dhoni, feted as the master finisher, could only make two in a brief stay at the crease.
With the game slipping away from India, Dinish Karthik pounded the boundaries with 33 off 16 deliveries while Krunal Pandya made 26 off 13 but they ended up four runs short.
New Zealand next host Bangladesh in a series of three ODIs and three Tests.


WHAT WE LEARNED: Dominant defences, sloppy City and simple Serie A

Updated 21 February 2019
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WHAT WE LEARNED: Dominant defences, sloppy City and simple Serie A

  • Defences dominated free-scoring attacks on Tuesday.
  • Juventus finding life far more tough in Europe than at home.

All the Champions League second round first-leg matches are done and dusted so what better time to look back at the latest clashes and reveal what we learned from the titanic tussles…

DEFENCE BACK IN VOGUE

Who would have predicted that Tuesday night’s two clashes would return the miserly total of zero goals? If you say yes, there is a good chance you are either lying or able to see into the future. Liverpool (minus Virgil van Djik), Bayern Munich and Barcelona are all much better going forward than trying to keep a cleansheet and goals were surely guaranteed. But in both matches — Liverpool at home to Bayern, and Barca away at Lyon — the backlines held firm and Bayern’s performance in particular illustrated a defensive discipline that has been deemed out of fashion the past few seasons. The fullbacks Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba rarely went beyond the halfway line and Mats Hummels was immense in the middle. Likewise the Reds without their defensive rock also looked resolute and solid with their makeshift backline. Over the past few years the top teams, especially in Europe, have generally thrown caution to the wind. Tuesday’s matches were a bit of a throwback, but no less entertaining or enthralling for it.

The disciplined performance of David Alaba typified Bayern's match at Liverpool. (AFP) 

JUVE FINDING SERIE TOO EASY?

The Turin club are once again strolling toward another domestic title. They are unbeaten and a mammoth 13 points ahead of second-placed Napoli, their eighth consecutive title is all but assured. In Europe, however, it is a different story as Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid illustrated. Already this season they have lost three of their seven Champions League matches and on now face a huge task to overturn the deficit in Turin on March 12. In four full seasons at Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri has led his team to four successive league and cup doubles and two Champions League finals. But he was out-thought by Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone. Of the result the Juve boss simply said “these things happen” but added: ““They are more used playing games of this type than us” a tacit admission that the Spaniards face tougher games in La Liga than Juve do while strolling to wins week after week in Italy.

Ronaldo and Juve are coasting to yet another Serie A title but it's a different story in the Champions League. (AFP) 

CITY’S INCONSISTENCY CLEAR TO SEE

Before the turn of the year Manchester City lost in the Premier League to Crystal Palace and Leicester City and followed that up in January with a shock loss at Newcastle. For the first time in 18 months, domestically at least, you could no longer assume the Abu Dhabi-owned club would turn up, strut their stuff and claim an easy victory. In Europe so far this season they have only lost once in seven matches, on the face of it no problem. But the defeat at Lyon before the new year has been followed up with Wednesday’s last-gasp 3-2 win at Schalke, again, on the face of it OK, but worrying signs are there. The German outfit may lie 14th in the Bundesliga but for long periods looked more than a match for Pep Guardiola’s side — albeit one down to 10 men from the 69th minute. City could well win the second-leg in a similar manner to their 6-0 win over Chelsea in the league, but this match as much as anything will have perfectionist Guardiola worried. It was not for nothing that he said after the win: “we are still not ready to fight for the latter stages.”

City found the going tough against a resolute Schalke. (AFP)