India have been red hot in their approach to the T20 World Cup winning ten out of their last eleven matches and were considered favourites in their opening encounter against New Zealand. The Black Caps had met India on four separate occasions in the T20 format and had won all four of them but this time around they were without the services of their former captain and hard hitting batsman Brendon McCullum.
New captain Kane Richardson made a bold decision in leaving out his frontline seamers in Trent Bolt and Tim Southee to go in with three spinners on a Nagpur pitch that promised turn and bounce. The Black Caps decided to bat first and got off to a horrible start losing both their openings for just thirteen runs. They found it hard to string together a partnership as the Indian bowlers turned up the pressure and struck at regular intervals. The Indians restricted New Zealand to a meagre 126 and based on their star studded batting line-up would have expected it to be an easy chase.
However the Black Caps came out firing and struck three times in quick succession reducing India to 12-3 as New Zealand spinners looked to take advantage of the spin and bounce that the track offered. Although India lost three quick wickets, vice-captain Virat Kohli was at the crease and India were still the favourites.
M Santner who made his T20 debut scored 18 valuable runs with the bat but it was with the ball where he made his presence really felt. The young kiwi was responsible for removing the dangerous Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin and skipper MS Dhoni. The Indians lost wickets just about every over and the lack of runs put pressure on the lower order. Although MS Dhoni tried his best to resurrect the innings, he received no support at the other end and Indian were bundled out for just 79, giving the Kiwis their 5th consecutive win over India.
In a statement, MS Dhoni said “I think it was a low scoring wicket, I thought we restricted them to a good total, the batting let us down, the shot selection kept putting pressure on the batsmen coming in … They bowled well, exploited the conditions, but we lacked adaptability, we could have applied ourselves a little more. The batting let us down.”
Kane Williamson will be happy to have won his first T20 World Cup match as captain and Santner will be thrilled with his debut and first man of the match award.