World T20: India handed humiliating defeat by New Zealand

New Zealand’s decision to pick three spinners of all variety enabled it to outwit the home team’s batsmen on a surface that helped them to a prodigious extent.

Mitchell Santner was awarded the Player of the Match.   -  AP

Ish Sodhi celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli with team-mates.   -  PTI

Virat Kohli walks back after his dismissal.   -  AP

The game of cricket is a glorious gamble and New Zealand’s decision to pick three spinners of all variety — off-spinner Nathan McCullum, left-arm spinner >Mitchell Santner and leg spinner >Ish Sodhi — enabled it to outwit the home team’s batsmen on a surface that helped them to a prodigious extent.

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Defending a small total of 126, which indicated the sub-standard quality of the pitch when the home team’s spinners were seen in action first, New Zealand chipped away relentlessly to deal a shock 47-run defeat on the home team in the first Super 10 match of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Vidarbha Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.

The star-studded Indian batting line-up did not have the resources to quell the challenge posed by the vicious turning balls from New Zealand’s spinners. It was New Zealand’s fifth consecutive win against India in the shortest form of the game.

Early wickets

The writing on the wall was clear when opener Shikhar Dhawan unwisely swept McCullum's third ball and was caught in front of the wicket. Immediately thereafter Rohit Sharma danced down the pitch to Santner, missed the line and offered a straightforward stumping chance to Luke Ronchi. A virtual procession followed with Suresh Raina offering a simple catch to Martin Guptil at short mid-wicket. With more than half the side back in the dressing room by the 10th over, even the smallest of target looked beyond reach. Only skipper >Mahendra Singh Dhoni offered a semblance of resistance.

Everything went right for New Zealand at the start with Kane Williamson winning the toss and Guptil, with a career strike rate of 7.78 an over, employing his top and bottom hand to send the first ball from Ravichandran Ashwin over the straight boundary. It was the bold and brave shot from Guptil that saw the first Super 10 match get off the ground in a thundering fashion at the packed stadium in the Orange City.

But just as the crowd braced itself for another mighty hit from the right-handed New Zealand opener, the clever off spinner came back strongly, winning a leg before decision from Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena. The India proceeded to call the shots for the next 92 minutes. New Zealand’s total of 126 was its lowest while batting first in five matches against India.

Spinners excel

Williamson’s decision to bat first after winning the toss may have been based on the premise of the venue’s notorious past of assisting spinners and clearly the New Zealand skipper did not see much in the ICC advisory for the curator to work towards rolling out a sporting track. The home team’s spinners made things difficult for the New Zealand batsmen. Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah too did well. He ran in fast, bowled with supreme confidence, rattled left and right handers with yorker-length deliveries, one of which accounted for Corey Anderson, the highest scorer for the Kiwis.

It was after the downfall of Colin Munro, who reverse hit Ashwin for a six over square leg, that New Zealand changed its game-plan and followed a cautious approach against the part time off-spin of Raina and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who extracted the most from the North End of the wicket. With pressure building on New Zealand to step up the scoring rate, wickets tumbled with Raina and Dhawan’s razor-sharp throws resulting in the run out of Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott.