New Zealand captain Mitchell Santner led a superb spin show to defeat India by 21 runs in the first T20I of the three-match series at the JSCA International Stadium, here on Friday.
After Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway smashed half-centuries in powering New Zealand to 176/6 in 20 overs, including a 27-run final over, India lost their top three in powerplay as Santner, Michael Bracewell and Ish Sodhi made the most out of turn and controlled their line and length well to guide visitors to their first win of the tour.
For India, there was a 68-run stand off 51 balls for the fourth wicket between Suryakumar Yadav and captain Hardik Pandya, followed by Washington Sundar notching up his maiden T20I fifty, keeping the hosts' in the hunt. But losing wickets at regular intervals meant India ended up at 155/9 in 20 overs.
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In defence of 176, Bracewell struck on his third ball in the second over, getting a good length ball around middle stump to spin past Kishan's outside edge and hit the off stump. In the next over, Rahul Tripathi fell for a six-ball duck off Jacob Duffy, after his attempted slog took a feather edge behind to the wicket-keeper.
Santner struck on his first ball of the match as Shubman Gill went back foot to pull a slower delivery. But the ball stopped and turned at him, resulting in the bottom edge going to square leg. With the ball turning left, right and centre, Santner managed to slip in a maiden over in the last over of power-play against an in-form Suryakumar.
The right-handed batter, who had previously hit a four off Santner and flicked a six off Lockie Ferguson, attacked Ish Sodhi by nailing sweeps through fine leg and square leg. He then feasted on short and wide balls from Blair Tickner, cutting him through the off-side twice.
When Sodhi returned in the 12th over, Suryakumar brought out the lofted drive over extra cover for six. But on the very next ball, he was foxed by a googly from the leg-spinner and chipped straight to long-on, falling for 47. In the next over, Hardik went for the pull off Bracewell and the bowler moved to his right to complete the catch.
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Deepak Hooda, despite being given a life off Bracewell, was all at sea against Santner and in a bid to go big off him, he danced down the pitch. But Hooda missed the shorter delivery and saw the ball turn past his bat to be stumped for 10 in the 16th over.
The slide continued for India as Santner ran-out Shivam Mavi at the bowler's end while Kuldeep Yadav nicked behind off Ferguson. Sundar, dropped in the 14th over off Ferguson, waged a lone battle for India, pulling Tickner for four and six respectively while hitting Duffy for six over mid-off, before taking two fours through delightful drives.
He got his fifty in 25 balls by hammering Ferguson over long-on for six in the final over. After being dropped by Sodhi, Sundar ramped straight to third man. Though Umran Malik got a four on the final ball, it wasn't enough for India to avoid a loss.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 176/6 in 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 59 not out, Devon Conway 52; Washington Sundar 2/22, Kuldeep Yadav 1/20) beat India (Washington Sundar 50, Suryakumar Yadav 47; Mitchell Santner 2/11, Michael Bracewell 2/31) by 21 runs.