World T20: Kiwis spin magic spell as India implode under pressure

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Image Courtesy: © Twitter - ICC

World T20: Kiwis spin magic spell as India implode under pressure

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Arun S Kaimal


India got off to the worst possible start to their home World T20 on Tuesday after losing to New Zealand by 47 runs in the opening match of the event at the VCA stadium in Jamtha. After restricting the Kiwis to 126/7, India batsmen tumbled under pressure gifting nine wickets to the Kiwi spinners.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 126/7 in 20 overs (Anderson 34(42), Bumrah 1/15, Raina 1/15) beat India 79 all out in 18.1 overs (Dhoni 30(30), Santner 4/11, Sodhi 3/18) by 47 runs

Chasing 127, India got off to a poor start losing Shikhar Dhawan for one to Nathan McCullum in the fifth ball of the innings. Dhawan’s dismissal was similar to that of Guptill, with the left-hander missing the straight one from the off-spinner to find himself right in front of the stumps. Rohit seemed in a hurry and jumped out of the crease and rushed to the pavilion giving wicketkeeper Ronchi an easy chance behind the stumps, which he fumbled and juggled before removing the bails.

Raina came and went faster than Dhoni’s lightning stumping giving a dolly catch to Guptill at the cover to gift Santner his second wicket off the over. Yuvraj also followed his predecessors shortly, smashing one straight back at Nathan McCullum to give him his second wicket of the match.

Things went from bad to worse for India in the ninth over as Virat Kohli departed edging a flighted one from Ish Sodhi to leave India at 39/5. With Kohli gone, India’s only hope of a win rested on the shoulders of Dhoni, but to the disappointment of fans, wickets continued to tumble at the other end. Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja were the next to depart as Santner and Sodhi removed them respectively to leave the Asia Cup champions looking down the barrel at 43/7.

With the slow and dry pitch playing a part in the home side’s downfall, Dhoni and Ashwin tried their best to avoid an all-out by taking singles and twos with the ball not coming to the bat. Needing 60 in the last four overs, India was almost out of the game and the rest of the batsmen tumbled out gifting wickets to the Kiwi spinners to surrender to a 47-run defeat in their opening game of the tournament. Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner took nine wickets among themselves to script a brilliant victory for their team. 

Earlier, for the first match of the tournament, the Kiwis went with a surprise line-up that included three spinners in Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi, and Mitchell Santner.  On the other hand, India went in with their tried and tested XI, leaving out Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi, Harbhajan Singh and Ajinkya Rahane.

The Kiwi side led by Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat first on a wicket, which he believed to be dry and slow. Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, who are ranked 5 and 6 in the world T20 batsmen rankings, came out to bat, and ace-spinner Ashwin, who is ranked No.2 in the T20 bowler rankings, opened the bowling for India. Guptill got the T20 World Cup off to a rollicking start by smashing the off-spinner right above his head for an 86-meter six to silence the capacity crowd at the VCA stadium in Jamtha.

But, the crowd were back to their deafening best within seconds as Ashwin removed the dangerous Kiwi with the next ball of the innings. A straight one from the off-spinner skidded off the pitch and smashed into Guptill’s pads to force umpire Kumar Dharmasena to raise the finger. Guptill walked back to the pavilion in disappointment, but the replays showed that the ball was clearly going over the stumps.

Colin Munro arrived next and made his intent clear with a reverse smash over the point boundary off Ashwin for a six. A 13-run first over elevated the hopes of a run fest, but it all nosedived within minutes as Munro also rushed back to the pavilion after mishitting one off Nehra to Pandya at mid-off. After a brief spell of some quiet overs, things once again came alive in the fifth over with Corey Anderson smashing Ashwin for two fours to take the scoring rate above six.

Dhoni made an inspired bowling change after the powerplay and brought in Suresh Raina, and the part-timer delivered with his fourth ball by sending back Kane Williamson. Seeing the batsman stepping out of the crease, Raina fired one outside the off-stump, and the skipper did the rest with a lighting fast stumping to bid goodbye to the opposition skipper.

With the team looking down the barrel at 35/3 in the seventh over, Corey Anderson and Ross Taylor decided took a safety-first approach in a bid to take the team out of the woods. With the Kiwis  going into a cocoon, Dhoni brought back his spinners as India looked in complete control of the game. With the runs not coming easily and the spinners bowling in tandem, a wicket always looked around the corner, and it arrived in the 12th over after some brilliant work from Raina. The part-timer dived in to collect the ball from Anderson off his own bowling and flicked it to the stumps to catch Ross Taylor at the non-striker’s short.

With Corey Anderson playing an unconventional innings, the run-rate continued to crawl for the Kiwis, and it finally led to the downfall of the left-hander. Anderson tried to manufacture a shot off Bumrah in the 15th over, only to miss the yorker before it removed the middle stump to send the batsman packing for 34 off 42 balls. Wickets continued to tumble for the Kiwis in the last five overs as they managed only 38 runs in the last five overs to finish the innings at 126/7.

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