New Zealand adapted well to the spin-friendly conditions at the JSCA International Stadium Complex to notch up a 21-run win over India in the first T20I here on Friday.
The pitch, which offered turn and spongy bounce, made it hard for batters to time their strokes. In this context, New Zealand exceeded expectations by posting 176 for six batting first. Spinners Michael Bracewell (2/31) and Mitchell Santner (2/11) then took over to dismantle the India chase.
India’s hopes rested on Suryakumar Yadav, who looked at ease in his 34-ball 47. Suryakumar’s dismissal in the 12th over, scalped by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, put India in a deep hole. When captain Hardik Pandya fell a few deliveries later, the writing was on the wall.
Washington Sundar (50, 28b, 5x4, 3x6) struck a few big shots, but it was too little too late.
The damage was done early, when top-order batters Shubman Gill (7), Ishan Kishan (4) and Rahul Tripathi (0) were sent back cheaply. Skipper and left-arm spinner Santner was most impressive, even bowling a maiden inside the PowerPlay.
After being put in to bat, New Zealand reached a good total on the back of enterprising knocks from Daryl Mitchell (59 n.o., 30b, 3x4, 5x6), Devon Conway (52, 35b, 7x4, 1x6) and Finn Allen (35, 23b, 4x4, 2x6).
Pacers Hardik Pandya and Arshdeep Singh took the new ball, but failed to hit the right areas. There were far too many full deliveries outside off, which gave Allen the freedom to swing freely.
The introduction of Washington Sundar into the attack showed that spin ruled the roost. The off-spinner, who kept an immaculate good length, coaxed Allen to mishit a sweep to Suryakumar at deep mid-wicket. In the same over, Sundar foxed Mark Chapman with three flat skidders, before delivering a flighted ball. Chapman, all at sea, prodded forward to offer a sharp return catch to a diving Sundar.
Conway kept ticking, going on one knee to sweep the spinners. The southpaw departed in the 18th over, skying Arshdeep Singh to long-off.
Arshdeep’s reputation as a death over specialist took a big hit in the final over. The left-arm seamer could not find the yorker, and conceded 27 runs to Mitchell. Arshdeep’s first three deliveries, which included a no-ball, were smacked for sixes by Mitchell. The next ball, a wide full toss, was carved away beyond point for a four.
Mitchell’s late exploits took the wind out of India’s sails.