Displaying their renowned fighting spirit, New Zealand tore down the pre-tournament form book by inflicting a humiliating 47-run defeat on title favourites and hosts India at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium on Tuesday.Routed for 79 in chase of New Zealand’s modest 126, it was only India’s second defeat in Twenty20 internationals this year. The first was at Pune against Sri Lanka where the wicket came under the scanner for being too pacer-friendly. Here, the playing surface was again under the lens. This time the curator seems to have overdone in his attempt to provide the home team the advantage by preparing a turning track.
Dhoni’s decision to begin with spin may have made hard-hitting batsman Martin Guptill a bit too excited. After getting a six off the first ball of the match, he went for a pre-meditated shot on the next ball from Ashwin but failing to read the length, he tried to improvise and fell leg before. NZ were already one down and shaky.
While the spinners weaved a web around NZ, forcing them to lose early wickets, Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson built a partnership. However, bowler Raina’s agility found non-striker Taylor short of crease. NZ could never recover after that, although Anderson saw them to respectability.
Williamson’s decision to drop key pacers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee for spinners looked outrageous. But he seemed convinced and began with Nathan McCullum’s off-spin which got Dhawan early. Soon left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner (left) removed Rohit and Raina in one over.
In a tricky run chase and against athletic Kiwis, Virat Kohli was going to be the key. With Dhoni at the other end, India had the two best finishers. However, Kohli fell, edging a delivery from Ish Sodhi. India were five down and out.
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