Sharma claims record as India cruise past New Zealand

Indian captain Rohit Sharma celebrates his half-century during the second T20I match between India and New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Feb. 8.

AUCKLAND— Rohit Sharma became the highest run scorer in Twenty20 international history Friday as India romped to a seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the second T20 in Auckland.

Sharma top-scored for the tourists with 50 as India chased down New Zealand's modest 159-run target in 18.5 overs, leveling the three-match series at 1-1.

Sharma's knock was his 16th T20 half century and took his career tally in the format to 2,288 runs, overtaking New Zealand's Martin Guptill on 2,272.

The 31-year-old made his T20 debut against England in 2007 and has played 92 matches, averaging 33.15.

However Sharma, who is standing in as captain while Virat Kohli is rested, was more interested in focusing on India's performance than his individual achievements.

His team dominated New Zealand with bat and ball to avenge an 80-run loss in the opening fixture in Wellington -- India's heaviest ever T20 defeat.

"I'm very pleased with how we bowled and then we were quite clinical with the bat as well," he said.

"We were expecting a performance like that, we've got quality in our side but we didn't execute our plans in the first game.

"We learned from our mistakes and we got the reward for it."

India's bowling attack was much improved and man-of-the-match Krunal Pandya took three for 28 as they restricted New Zealand to 158 for eight.

Colin de Grandhomme gave the Black Caps some hope, hitting a maiden T20 half century off 27 balls as part of a 77-run partnership with Ross Taylor, who made 42.

But the hosts could not break the shackles and tight bowling at the end of the innings prevented them from taking advantage of Eden Park's short boundaries.

"We perhaps missed a trick or two with the bat," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said after his team laboured to 158 for eight in their 20 overs.

"Some smarter options might have given us another 20 runs at the death that would have been really helpful on that wicket."

Whereas India had no such problem in reply, making a flying start with Sharma leading the way.

His 50  part of a 79-run opening stand with Shikhar Dhawan  included four sixes and three fours off 28 balls.

Dhawan made 30, Rishabh Pant 40 and MS Dhoni brought the crowd to its feet with an entertaining cameo of 20 as India made 162 for three without looking troubled.

"That opening partnership for India really took the game away from us," Williamson said.

The final match of the series is at Hamilton on Sunday.

 Agence France-Presse

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