First T20I win for India over Kiwis

The ODI series had a lot of action and entertainment in it, and if we had to go by what happened during the 3 ODIs, the T20Is promised to be even better. The two teams didn’t disappoint the fans in the first T20I which ended up becoming a run-fest at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. The match also happened to be Ashish Nehra’s final international game for India, and he received a befitting farewell, as India won the game comprehensively and went 1-0 up, clinching their first victory over New Zealand in T20Is.

Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to bowl in conditions that would see a lot of dew later in the evening. This meant that India, who would have bowled first as well, had to put up a mammoth total on the board to provide some buffer for their bowlers. The Indian openers got off to a sound start, and secured 46 runs in the Powerplay. Shikhar Dhawan played the role of early aggressor, as Rohit Sharma struggled for timing early in his innings.

Once Shikhar Dhawan approached his half-century, Rohit found his timing and touch to play some magnificent strokes against the spinners as well as pacers. Dhawan meanwhile, got to his fifty at the other end, as Rohit plundered the boundaries. The duo brought up India’s 100 in the 12th over, laying the perfect foundation for a massive first innings total.

There was no drought of fours & sixes from here on, as the motive of both the openers was all-out attack. They threw their bat at almost every delivery in the final few overs. Rohit carried his form from ODIs into the shortest format, and brought up his half-century with a belligerent six over Santner. In that very over, he picked up two more boundaries. The pair claimed the record for the highest partnership for India in T20Is.

Doom struck India for the first time in the innings, only in the 17th over when Dhawan was stumped off a smart piece of bowling by Ish Sodhi. Hardik Pandya was promoted to number 3, but his stay was brief as he edged one to Latham off a beautifully spinning Sodhi delivery. That over put the brakes on India’s scoring for a short while, as Sodhi conceded just 2 runs.

Kohli got off the blocks early with a massive six he hit on the second delivery he faced. He continued in disdainful fashion, blasting Trent Boult for a maximum in the penultimate over of the innings. Rohit got out in that very over, under unusual circumstances. Boult bowled a fullish delivery outside off, which Rohit seemed to have either missed or edged. The Kiwis appealed, and the umpires referred the decision upstairs.  Since it was an umpire review, the Snickometer couldn’t be used by the third umpire, and Rohit was adjudged not out. After this decision, the Kiwis opted for an official review. The Snickometer showed an edge during replays and Rohit was then given out. Sharma had to depart for a slightly rusty, but well compiled 80.

Kohli & Dhoni ensured that the finish didn’t suffer. They hit a six each off Southee in the final over of the innings, taking India to 202 in 20 overs. The Kiwis were not convincing on the field. They dropped a few catches and the number of misfields were too many by their high standards. A few records were broken in the first innings. India got their highest partnership in T20Is. Rohit Sharma went on overtake Suresh Raina for the most sixes in T20s by an Indian batsman. On the flipside, Trent Boult conceded the most runs in his career in a T20I innings. Virat Kohli, on the other hand managed to smash the ball at his best strike-rate in a T20I innings.

New Zealand didn’t get the desired start to the chase. They couldn’t even score at a run-a-ball, as the Indian quicks put pressure right away. However, it was Yuzvendra Chahal who induced a false shot off Guptill’s blade. It was Hardik, though who made the wicket a special one. The ball went straight up, down the ground. Hardik ran to his right from long off, and was still far off when the ball dipped and was inches from the turf. He flung himself towards the ball, dived full-length and reached it. Hardik clutched the ball, and slid further, but didn’t lose his hold on it. In the end, it was perhaps one of the best catches seen in 2017.

Ashish Nehra who was bowling for the final time in India colours, could have had his first wicket of the night, but it wasn’t to be. Hardik had to back-peddle a skier off Munro’s bat, but couldn’t get this one in his grasp, even on the second attempt. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was introduced soon after, and he cleaned up Colin Munro with a beautiful yorker. The Kiwis were going nowhere, as Tom Latham joined Williamson.

India bowled so well in the Powerplay, that they conceded just 33 runs in it. There were no freebies for the Kiwi batsmen, and they just couldn’t get to the 6-an-over mark. Williamson was put out of his misery by Hardik Pandya who got the Kiwi skipper to edge one to Dhoni off the very first delivery of his spell.

Tom Bruce got going along with Latham, and they took the run-rate over 6, finally for the Kiwis. After a short stand, Bruce holed out at mid-wicket off Axar Patel. To make things worse for the Kiwis, Colin de Grandhomme fell two balls later, in the same over to Axar. All of a sudden, the Kiwis were reduced to 84/5. At this juncture, the Kiwis were staring down the barrel.

Wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals, and the victory was inevitable from here on for Team India. The Kiwis were eight down when Santner held the innings together, and prevented the all out. Ashish Nehra got a poetic ending, as Kohli handed him the ball for the last over of the match. He couldn’t claim a wicket, but it was perhaps fitting for the man to end his career, and seal victory for Team India, a team he has served since 1999.

The Kiwis looked hapless in the first T20I. All three departments of their game fell apart, while India were on top of their game. They beat the number 1 T20I side at the moment, for the first time after having lost 5 games previously. The Blackcaps have a lot of work to do ahead of the second T20I. From Delhi, the teams travel to Rajkot for the second game, which will be held on 4th November.

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