Cancer survivor Yuvraj Singh was denied a fairy-tale return to big-time cricket as New Zealand pipped India by one run in a see-saw Twenty20 international to win the two-match series in Chennai tonight.
Brendon McCullum smashed 91 off 55 balls as the Kiwis posted 167 for five and then restricted the hosts to 166 for four despite Virat Kohli's 70 from 41 deliveries and a valiant 34 from Yuvraj.
"They bowled brilliantly and the wicket slowed down a bit which made it quite difficult for us," MS Dhoni, the India captain, said at the post-match presentation.
"But we should have won. Virat gave us a very good start. Our worry was how the wicket would behave in the second half.
"After the 10th or 12th over it got tough. It was good to see the approach in the start of the innings. It's good for us going into the World Cup."
McCullum, the man of the match, said: "The pitch was really good for 20 overs. A lot of our guys are getting more worldly when it comes to these conditions."
Yuvraj, who was treated for a rare germ-cell tumour between his lungs earlier this year, bowled two wicketless overs for 14 runs, took a catch and hit one four and two sixes.
But it was not enough to secure victory for his team as the Black Caps fought back in the final overs to pull off a brilliant win in front of 25,000 disappointed home fans.
India were cruising at 120 for two in the 14th over when the left-arm seamer James Franklin turned the match around by having Kohli caught in the deep by Tim Southee.
"Franklin needs a big pat on the back," said Ross Taylor, the New Zealand captain.
"Kohli could have taken it away from us and good catch by Southee. Hopefully we can take this confidence through [to next weeks World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka]."
The dismissal put the brakes on the scoring, leaving India needing 13 runs off Franklin's last over. Franklin bowled Yuvraj with the fourth ball when six more were needed, but the new batsman Rohit Sharma could manage only four runs from the last two deliveries.
Dhoni was stranded at the non-striker's end on 22 not out.
New Zealand clinched the two-match series, a warm-up for next week's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, after the opening game was washed out without a ball being bowled in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
Yuvraj, man of the tournament in India's World Cup triumph last year, was recalled to the Twenty20 side despite not having played competitive cricket since November.
The Chennai fans gave Yuvraj a standing ovation when he was called upon to bowl the seventh over of the innings by Dhoni.
Yuvraj conceded four singles in his first over of left-arm spin and then suffered a hard knock in his bowling hand while trying to take a difficult return catch off McCullum in his second.
Having given away 14 runs in his two overs, Yuvraj delighted his teammates and fans as he gleefully caught a skier at cover point to dismiss Franklin.
Further warm applause greeted his arrival at the crease to bat and Yuvraj responded by lofting Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram for sixes.
McCullum led the charge for the Black Caps with 11 boundaries and three sixes before he was bowled by the left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan.
McCullum added 90 runs for the third wicket with Kane Williamson (28) after the Black Caps had lost openers Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill by the second over.
Taylor and Oram plundered 21 runs in the last two overs, which proved costly for India in the end.
The opening game of the two-match series, a warm-up for the World Twenty20, was washed out without a ball being bowled in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
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