If there is one format where India has consistently struggled against New Zealand in the last decade, it is in the Twenty20 International format. Rohit Sharma’s Indian cricket team was attempting to break their jinx of never having won a T20I in New Zealand and they headed into the first match at Westpac stadium high on confidence. However, New Zealand went one better and handed India their heaviest defeat in terms of runs in this format. Kane Williamson’s side registered 219/6, the joint-second highest show in Twenty20 Internationals against India and the bowlers delivered a clinical show to record an 80-run win and go 1-0 up in the three-match series on Wednesday.
In the ODIs, the Indian cricket team had put in a clinical performance in all departments. Here, in the Wellington T20I, it was New Zealand’s turn. India chose to bowl and after a quiet first over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Colin Munro broke the shackles with two consecutive boundaries off Khaleel Ahmed. The confidence showed by Munro rubbed off on Tim Seifert, the right-hander who has been compared to Brendon McCullum and he blasted a four and launched Bhuvneshwar’s slower ball for a six over long on.
Munro, who had struggled in the ODIs, showed that T20Is was more to his liking by launching two consecutive sixes off Khaleel. After being dropped by MS Dhoni, Seifert launched Krunal Pandya for a six over fine leg to bring up the fifty-run stand in just the fifth over. The New Zealand openers found the boundary on a regular basis, with Seifert hitting two fours and a six in two overs bowled by Hardik and Krunal. The right-hander reached his fifty off 30 balls but Krunal broke the stand when Munro (34) holed out to Vijay Shankar at long on.
Seifert stepped up a gear and launched two sixes off Krunal, one over deep square leg and the other to long off. Even Yuzvendra Chahal was not spared as he launched him for a four and a six over deep midwicket. However, on 84, Seifert was bowled by Khaleel but he had the third-best individual score by a New Zealand player against India.
New Zealand did not lose momentum with Kane Williamson blasting two sixes off Hardik Pandya. Karthik redeemed himself by taking a well-judged catch off debutant Daryl Mitchell. India staged a mini-comeback by getting rid of Williamson for 34 with Chahal getting the breakthrough but New Zealand never got bogged down. Ross Taylor blasted a couple of sixes and Scott Kugglejin hit two fours and a six off Bhuvneshwar in the 19th over. New Zealand’s 219/6 was their highest total against India and joint-second highest by an opponent against India.
India blown away
For India to get off well, they needed Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan to start well. The left-hander pounded two sixes and a four off Kugglejin but Tim Southee got the big wicket of Rohit (1) with the Indian skipper mistiming a short ball to deep square leg. Vijay Shankar came in and targeted Kugglejin by smashing him for two sixes and a four as India made good progress in the powerplay.
However, Lockie Ferguson’s pace made the difference and his 151 kmph delivery in his first over cleaned up Dhawan for 29. Shankar carried on the good work by thumping Mitchell Santner for a six but the seventh over bowled by Daryl Mitchell increased the run-rate and the pressure. Santner had the last laugh by getting rid of Rishabh Pant (4) and Vijay Shankar (27) in the same over. Another double strike by Ish Sodhi, getting rid of Karthik (5) and Hardik (4) killed the contest.
With the asking rate over 22, it was too much a task for MS Dhoni and Krunal and the boundaries dried up. In the end, New Zealand finished off proceedings to prolong India’s pain of never having won a Twenty20 International in New Zealand. With this win, New Zealand has improved their head-to-head record against India to 7-2 in this format and they would want to end the series against India on a high with a win in Hamilton.