Cricket-Clinical India hammer New Zealand to take T20 series

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(Reuters) - India openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul scored half-centuries as the hosts romped home by seven wickets against New Zealand in Ranchi on Friday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series.

Chasing 154, India made light work of the target as a 117-run stand between skipper Rohit (55) and Rahul (65) laid the foundation for an easy win wrapped up by Venkatesh Iyer (12 not out) and Rishabh Pant (12 not out) with 2.4 overs to spare.

Rohit was at his belligerent best as he smashed five sixes and was ably complemented by Rahul, who continued his fine form and struck six boundaries and two sixes of his own.

"Great effort from entire unit, wasn't the easiest of conditions but the way we applied ourselves was great," said Rohit. "Under pressure, we know their quality as a batting outfit."

Earlier, New Zealand had got off to a flying start after being put in to bat with Martin Guptill (31) and Daryl Mitchell (31) taking 48 runs off pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar within the first five overs.

But the failure to push on again proved costly for the Kiwis as India squeezed them in the middle overs with terrific bowling performances from spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (1-19) and Axar Patel (1-26), as well as debutant seamer Harshal Patel (2-25).

Glenn Phillips tried to rally the visitors with a 21-ball 34 but New Zealand could only manage 153-6.

"I kept telling the bowlers it's just about one wicket, if we get that we can put the brakes (on)," added Rohit. "We know the quality of our spinners and can always pull things back."

The final match of the series will be in Kolkata on Sunday.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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