Cricket: Franklin flips the script for NZ win

By Kris Shannon of APNZ in Chennai

James Franklin and Black Caps teammates celebrate after winning the Twenty20 international against India in Chennai. Photo / AP
James Franklin and Black Caps teammates celebrate after winning the Twenty20 international against India in Chennai. Photo / AP

It was almost inevitable Yuvraj Singh, in his first match since overcoming cancer, would hit the winning runs for India - but someone failed to inform James Franklin of the script.

Needing six runs from the final three balls, Yuvraj was undone by a slower delivery from Franklin and New Zealand ended their tour of India on a high, winning the only Twenty20 by a solitary run.

Yuvraj has been absent from cricket since being diagnosed with lung cancer last year and, after successfully fighting the illness, he returned to much fanfare for the match in Chennai.

But Franklin ruined the Indian fairytale and proceeded to complete a fine final over as the Black Caps' bowlers defended 167 to head into next week's World Cup with a win under their belts.

"It's been a bit of a tough tour so far so it's nice to get this victory and head off to Sri Lanka with a good win," Franklin said.

After receiving rapturous applause when striding to the crease with his team in control on 87-2, it seemed a matter of fate the match would be decided by the innings of Yuvraj.

India looked well in control for much of their chase, before a couple of wily medium-pacers pulled New Zealand back into the contest.

With the hosts needing only 39 from 30 balls and holding seven wickets in hand, Franklin combined with Oram for a stunning final spell to turn the game on its head. The pair deftly changed pace and varied length to restrict India to 37 from the final five overs.

"Funny things can happen in Twenty20," Franklin said. "All it takes is a couple of overs of tight bowling and things can change."

Those funny things were no more evident than in this morning's match. A frightening collision in the outfield between Brendon McCullum and Kyle Mills left the fast bowler needing assistance to leave the field, and left Franklin to fill in.

"I don't think I was expected to bowl four overs today but with the unfortunate incident [captain Ross Taylor] needed someone to take over and I stepped in."

The incident was an initial concern for the tourists as Mills' teammates rolled him into the recovery position, but a black eye from McCullum's elbow was thought to be the worst of the damage.

Mills' absence from the bowling crease was ably compensated for by Franklin (2-26) and Oram (0-27), and New Zealand maintained their unbeaten streak over India in the shortest form of the game.

Earlier, McCullum's knock of 91 from 55 balls set up his side for a competitive total after they were reduced to 2-2 in the second over.

McCullum was typically aggressive from the outset but initially struggled to find his timing. Once that arrived he dispatched the Indian attack to all corners, using power and placement in equal measure to beat the field.

The Black Caps managed only a run a ball for the first 50, but McCullum's striking coupled with Kane Williamson's (28) rotation of the strike saw the run rate rapidly accelerate.

With his second T20 ton in sight, McCullum was bamboozled by a slower delivery from Irfan Pathan, leaving Taylor (25 from 19) and Oram (18 from 9) to cash in during the death overs and push New Zealand to a respectable total.

India's openers experienced none of the troubles of their Kiwi counterparts, racing to 26 before Mills dismissed Gautam Gambhir with a fine return catch in the third over.

Virat Kohli, the hosts' best batsman during the test series, continued in his rich vein of form and hit 70 after opening the batting.

But the Black Caps' bowlers eventually restricted their hosts to take the abbreviated series.

- APNZ

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