Fine half centuries from KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer helped India comfortably chase down a stiff target of 203 in their first T20 against New Zealand in Auckland. The visitors used the short straight boundaries at Eden Park to good effect as they coasted home with a full over to spare.
Here are our talking points from today’s T20I clash.
Bumrah excellent: On a pitch where over 400 runs were scored, Jasprit Bumrah was again excellent with miserly figures of 1/31 in his 4 overs. Those 31 runs included a misfield and an overthrow which cost 8 runs instead of the two they should originally have, which means his figures would’ve read 1/25. He conceded only two fours and on a day when his fellow pacers Shardul Thakur and Mohammad Shami were carted all around the park, his stellar spell was as important to India’s victory as Rahul and Iyer’s knocks.
Poor Indian fielding: Perhaps it was the jet lag, but India’s fielding was seriously off the pace today. Apart from the misfield and overthrow mentioned above, there were plenty of other lapses- the biggest of them being Yuzvendra Chahal’s dropped catch of Kane Williamson. The NZ skipper could’ve been caught in his 20’s, but poor positioning saw the ball sail over Chahal’s head for six. It didn’t cost them today, but it’s an area Virat Kohli will demand instant improvement in ahead of the second T20.
Great Guptill catch: The Black Caps mirrored India’s fielding- they had two shots at running KL Rahul out in the sixth over, but fluffed both, and Ish Sodhi then dropped a skier that would’ve seen the back of Kohli. However the catch that eventually sent the Indian skipper back to the pavillion was an absolute stunner from Martin Guptill- another great display of athleticism from the Black Caps star.
Great knocks from Rahul and Iyer: Rohit Sharma’s half century had been key to India’s victory at this very venue last year, but he fell cheaply this time around. However Rahul continued from where he had left off at home and smashed 56 off 27 to keep India ahead of the chase. The Men in Blue had a minor hiccup when Kohli and he were dismissed in quick succession, but Shreyas Iyer took charge of the chase and took them home. Iyer was 18 off 14 at one stage in his knock- he finished on 58 off 29 and wrapped up matters with a huge six off Tim Southee.
New Zealand fall 20 odd runs short: The Black Caps only got 25 runs off the final 19 deliveries of their innings- this was primarily due to their inability to get Bumrah away. India were behind New Zealand at the 17 over mark, but reached home with an over to spare. Given the start they had, the Black Caps should’ve got 220- those 20 odd runs that they potentially missed out on cost them in the final analysis on a superb batting surface at Eden Park.
It didn’t help that Mitchell Santner was expensive on the day- he gave away as many runs in his four over spell as Chahal and Jadeja together did in their 6 overs combined for India.
A game like this is won on small margins, and New Zealand fluffed their lines when it mattered the most.