Nagpur, March 15 (IANS) New Zealand defeated India by 47 runs in a low scoring opening match of the World Twenty20 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here on Tuesday.
The Kiwis, who have never lost to India in the shortest version of the game, thus maintained their perfect record. Tuesday’s defeat also ended a seven-match winning streak for the Indians.
Chasing a modest 127-run target on a spin-friendly track in the Super 10 Group 2 match, the Indian batsmen never really got into the groove and could only manage to crawl their way to 79 before being all out.
In-form batsman Virat Kohli (23) and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (30) fought bravely as wickets fell at the other end, but could not rescue the team.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner claimed a four-wicket haul for New Zealand with superb figures of 4/11 in his four overs. This was the best figures by a spinner against India in the 20-over format.
Indian origin leg-spinner Inderbir Singh Sodhi also tormented the Indian batsmen for figures of 3/18 while Nathan McCullum (2/15) and fast bowler Adam Milne (1/8) also bowled well.
India lost nine wickets to spinners, which equalled the T20 record.
The hosts suffered an early jolt when Nathan McCullum trapped Shikhar Dhawan leg before in the opening over with one that pitched on middle before straightening.
Santner dealt the Indians a double blow when he sent back the in-form Rohit Sharma and then Suresh Raina in the third over. Rohit had come down the wicket, but was outfoxed by the extra bounce and decent turn as wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi pulled off an easy stumping despite an initial fumble. Raina meanwhile, offered an easy catch to midwicket.
Yuvraj Singh also perished due to a poor shot to leave the hosts in trouble at 26/4 in the fifth over. The sizeable home crowd roared in anticipation as Dhoni joined Kohli in the middle. But it was simply not India’s day.
Kohli’s brave effort was brought to an end by a Sodhi delivery that turned away after pitching. Kohli attempted to drive but could not time the shot properly as the ball grazed the edge of the bat on its way into the keeper’s gloves.
Indian hopes of salvaging the match departed along with Kohli. Dhoni waged a lonely battle, but wickets continued to fall at the other end.
Earlier, a combination of below par batting and quality bowling saw New Zealand restricted to a low total of 126/7 in their 20 overs.
Electing to bat first after winning the toss, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson saw his decision backfire as most of the Kiwi batsmen showed poor application and could not last long on a pitch which had a fair bit of turn.
All-rounder Corey Anderson was the only batsman who managed to tackle the Indian bowling with a patient 34 off 42 deliveries.
Among the Indian bowlers, veteran pacer Ashish Nehra (1/6) continued his recent good form with another economical performance, while Jasprit Bumrah (1/15), Raina (1/15), Ravindra Jadeja (1/18) and Ravichandran Ashwin (1/32) were also among the wickets.
The match was off to a rousing start with Martin Guptill hitting Ashwin for a six in the very first ball. Ashwin hit back in the very next ball thanks to a controversial leg before decision by umpire Kumar Dharmasena.
Television replays later showed that the ball hit Guptill high on the pads and seemed to be drifting down leg.
Incoming batsman Colin Munro also started in explosive fashion, hitting the very next ball into the stands. But too much haste proved to be his undoing in the next over as he stepped out of his crease and tried to smash a Nehra delivery over the fielding circle but could not connect properly as the ball hit the top of the bat and Hardik Pandya took an easy catch at mid-off.
Kiwi skipper Williamson’s efforts to rebuild the innings came to an end when he came down the track to Raina only to miss the ball and Dhoni pulled off an easy stumping.
The Kiwis continued to lose wickets at regular intervals and after Anderson saw his middle stump uprooted while attempting an adventurous shot off Bumrah’s bowling, New Zealand’s chances of producing a big total had gone for a toss.