Wellington: New Zealand's bowling was exceptionally well in the fourth T20I match as India batting line almost collapsed. Manish Pandey, however, batted beautifully to drag India to 165/8 in 20 overs with a gritty half century here on Friday.
The hosts were without regular skipper Kane Williamson who was out with a shoulder niggle. Tim Southee led the team in his absence and did well as his spinners along with pacer Hamish Bennett (2/41) kept the Indian batsmen in check.
Ish Sodhi was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/26 as Mitchell Santner also bagged one wicket and conceded just 26 runs. Santner also took three great catches.
Pandey top-scored for the tourists with an unbeaten 50 off 36 deliveries, his innings laced with three fours, and shared a 43-run seventh wicket stand with Shardul Thakur (20) after India were reduced to 88/6 inside 12 overs.
Skipper Virat Kohli had promised to give his bench-warmers a run after India bagged the five-match T20I series with a thrilling Super Over win against New Zealand to take an unassailable 3-0 lead on Wednesday.
And he did just that on Friday as Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar and Navdeep Saini were pencilled in for Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami.
However, Samson -- opening the batting -- failed to seize the opportunity and got out after scoring just eight runs. The right-hander lasted five balls before Mitchell Santner took a blinder at covers off Scott Kuggeleijn in the second over.
It started India's downfall as none of the batsmen including skipper Kohli got going. K.L. Rahul scored 39 but once Sodhi had him caught by Santner at deep mid-wicket, India were soon 88/6 with Pandey and Shardul Thakur in the middle.
Kohli was removed for 11 by Hamish Bennett as the ace batsman forced Santner into another acrobatic catch leaping high and to his right to grab the ball. Shreyas Iyer (1) followed soon, caught behind off Sodhi before Rahul also walked back to the hut.
Shivam Dube's poor run with the bat in the series continued as he holed out to Tom Bruce at long on who braved a near-collision with Daryl Mitchell to take the catch.
Sundar, who has been in and out of the T20 team and had to contribute with the bat which is important along with his spin if he wanted to fight with all-rounder Jadeja for a place in the XI, departed without troubling the scorers as India were reeling at 88/6.
Pandey and Thakur tried to stem the rot with a partnership before the latter was dismissed by Bennett as skipper Southee caught him at short mid-on.
Pandey continued the good work with Navdeep Saini's 11-run cameo to put India in a position where their bowlers can challenge the Kiwi batters.
Brief Scores: India: 165/8 (Manish Pandey 50; Ish Sodhi 3/26); New Zealand