A dramatic Indian batting collapse saw New Zealand claim a 47-run win as the hosts and favourites were dismissed for just 79 at a shell-shocked Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha, Nagpur in the opening 2016 World T20 match on Tuesday.
What made India’s failure with the bat all the more remarkable was the way it was brought about primarily by spin.
Indian-born leg-spinner Ish Sodhi claimed 3-18 in his four overs, while left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner claimed 4-11 in his full quota. Nathan McCullum, the third spinner in the New Zealand team, claimed 2-15 in three overs to fully justify skipper Kane Williamson’s decision to bat first and play with only one genuine quick in the side in Adam Milne.
Santner felt the pitch offered something for the spinners but added that they could have put up more on the board. “There was a bit of spin out there, they bowled well to keep us to 120 [sic], that was below par, but we got stuck in and I’m delighted with the win,” he said.
Chasing a seemingly simple target of 127, India went off to a nightmare start as left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan was trapped in front of the stumps by McCullum in the first over, missing a sweep.
Rohit Sharma was the next to go, stumped off man-of-the-match Santner in the third over, as the Indian batsmen had no answer to the spin of New Zealand.
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The wickets continued to tumble as the Indian batsmen struggled to find the middle of the bat. Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja all followed in quick succession to leave India 43-7 after just 10.2.
The chase was all but over by then but skipper MS Dhoni gave it a little bit of respectability as he made 30 off 30 balls.
Such was the state of India’s innings that Dhoni’s 30-run stand with Ravichandran Ashwin (10 off 20 balls) was the highest of their much-vaunted batting attack. Dhoni, Ashwin and Kohli (27 off as many balls) were the only three batsmen to even reach double figures, with only four batsmen outscoring the four extras conceded by New Zealand.
By the time Milne castled Ashish Nehra to dismiss India on 79 and claim the only wicket by a New Zealand fast-bowler in the match, the result was all but academic.
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Earlier in the day, it had been a similarly catastrophic start for New Zealand as Martin Guptill kicked off the World T20 with a six off the first ball before being given leg-before on the second. Replays though showed the ball would have missed the stumps.
The dangerous Colin Munro was dismissed by Nehra in the next to make it 13-2. The usually reliable Williamson was the next to go as New Zealand slumped to 35-3.
Some consolidation in the middle overs by Corey Anderson (34 off 42 balls) and Santner (18 off 17), and some fireworks by Luke Ronchi (an unbeaten 21 not out off 11 balls) helped New Zealand to 126-7.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2016.
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