Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway's fine half-centuries followed by captain Mitchell Santner's superb spin show guided New Zealand to 21-run win over in the first T20I and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series at the JSCA International Stadium, here on Friday.
After Mitchell and Conway hit 59 not out and 52 respectively in powering New Zealand to 176/6 in 20 overs on a spin-friendly pitch, including the former taking 27 runs off the final over against Arshdeep Singh, India lost their top three batters in powerplay as Santner, Michael Bracewell and Ish Sodhi made the most out of turn while controlling their trajectory, line and length well to give visitors' 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. But a climbing asking rate and losing wickets at regular intervals meant India ended up at 155/9 in 20 overs.
Put into bat first, Finn Allen got going by hitting back-to-back boundaries off Hardik in the opening over, before bringing out a straight drive against a wayward Arshdeep. Conway then drove wide of point to make it two boundaries off the over.
Arshdeep came under further attack as Allen thumped a flat six over mid-off, before getting a four off the outer edge over short third man. After sweeping Washington over deep mid-wicket for six, Allen tried a similar shot, but holed out in the deep in the final over of power-play.
One brought two for India as Sundar bowled a straighter delivery which Mark Chapman couldn't keep it down, as the off-spinner took a stunning diving catch. Conway opened up by hitting two fours and a six off Umran Malik in the eighth over, with the pick-up shot over square leg for the maximum being a standout.
He timed his sweeps well against Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Hooda while whipping off his pads for picking three boundaries quickly. Glenn Phillips tried to sweep off Kuldeep, but gave a massive top-edge to deep mid-wicket in the 13th over.
As Conway got his ninth T20I fifty in 31 balls, Mitchell got going by smashing sixes off Hardik over wide long-on and straight down the ground in the 17th over. But in the next over, Conway fell for 52, mistiming the loft to long-off against Arshdeep, followed by Bracewell run-out at striker's end.
After Santner hooked straight to deep mid-wicket off Shivam Mavi in the 19th over, Mitchell hit perfectly-timed sixes off Arshdeep over long-on, backward square leg and wide long-on, including a no-ball on the first ball, to get his fifty in 26 balls. He then sliced wide of point for four, before taking four runs in next three balls to make it 27 runs off the final over and set a daunting target for India.
Chasing a challenging target, Bracewell struck on his third ball in the second over, getting a 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 as his attempted slog took an edge behind off Jacob Duffy.
Santner struck on his first ball as Shubman Gill went back foot to pull off a slower delivery. But the ball stopped and turned at him, resulting in the bottom edge going to square leg. He also managed to slip in a maiden over in the last over of power-play against Suryakumar.
The right-handed batter, who had previously hit a four and six, attacked Sodhi by nailing sweeps twice, before cutting off short and wide balls to Blair Tickner through the off-side for consecutive boundaries.
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. Deepak Hooda, despite being given a reprieve off Bracewell, missed the shorter delivery from Santner and was stumped in the 16th over.
The slide continued for India as Mavi and Kuldeep fell in quick succession. Sundar, dropped in the 14th over off Ferguson, waged a lone battle, 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
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