India v New Zealand | India gives perfect swansong to Ashish Nehra with 53-run victory in Delhi

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India v New Zealand | India gives perfect swansong to Ashish Nehra with 53-run victory in Delhi

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Divya Sahu


After a brilliant batting performance, Indian bowlers lived up to the billing and restricted New Zealand to 149/8 to present Ashish Nehra a worthy farewell at his home ground in New Delhi. Batting first, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma’s brilliant 158-run partnership led India to 202/3 in 20 overs.

Brief scores: India 202/3 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 80, Shikhar Dhawan 80; Ish Sodhi 2/25, Trent Boult 1/49) beat New Zealand 149/8 (Tom Latham 39, Kane Williamson 28; Axar Patel 20/2, Yuzvendra Chahal 26/2) by 53 runs.

Winning the toss, Kane Williamson asked India to make the first use of the strip keeping the growing dew factor in the northern India in mind. While Ashish Nehra made his place in the playing XI for his last international game, Shreyas Iyer also made his international debut today.

Assured start gives India the perfect base for a big target

Mitchell Santner gave the visitors a good start with the ball as he kept pitching the ball in the good length spot and conceded only two runs in his first over. But the Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan decided to unleash their free-flowing self and started sending the ball out of the boundary, whenever there was any width on offer. That helped India get going and in the next three overs, the duo hit four boundaries and one maximum to take the score to 30/0 after four overs. Although the Indian duo didn’t seem to be troubled by the pacers, Santner, on the other hand, kept putting the ball in right areas which restricted India score runs freely. In the last delivery of the powerplay, Sharma stuck a boundary over mid-off to take India to 46/0 after six overs. Dhawan got his second life in the game when Tim Southee dropped his catch at long-off and he made the visitors pay for their mistakes hitting a boundary in the very next ball of Colin de Grandhomme. The Delhite used the sweep shots to great effect to handle the Kiwi bowlers while Sharma seemed struggling to rotate the strike more often. However, they targeted Grandhomme in the ninth over scoring 18 runs which helped India reach 80/0 at the halfway point of the innings.

Dhawan-Sharma record partnership guides India to a big total

After the good start, it was imperative for the Indian openers to build on that and they did exactly that as Dhawan completed his half-century in the 12th over and helped the team cross the 100-run mark. The Indian duo were well-set on the crease and New Zealand players’ bad fielding gave them an opportunity to milk runs at will in the next two overs. After a nervy start Sharma, too, found his groove and completed his half-century with a maximum on Santner’s delivery in the 15th over of the innings. Although Sodhi managed to put a brake on the run-scoring momentum of India in the 17th over dismissing Dhawan and Hardik Pandya within a span of three balls when India were at 158/2, Kohli came out to bat at No.4 and made sure that the start that the openers provided wouldn’t go futile. In the penultimate over of the game, Boult got the Indian opener’s wicket as he took a review after Umpire ruled him not out, but Southee’s expensive last over meant India ended the innings with a total of 202/3 in 20 overs.

Indian bowlers keep New Zealand in check

After Nehra’s economic opening over, in which he conceded only five runs, Yuzvendra Chahal gave India the first breakthrough in the form of Martin Guptill, thanks to Pandya’s brilliant catch near the straight boundary. Soon, Kohli handed the ball to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in search of another wicket and the latter also didn’t disappoint his skipper as he sent Colin Munro back to the dressing room with a superb yorker and gave only three runs in his over. Kumar kept bowling the mixture of short and yorker length balls and in the next two overs, the visitors could only manage to score 15 runs which helped them reach 33/2 at the end of the powerplay. Meanwhile, Pandya continued to impress by dismissing Williamson in his first delivery. With Latham and Tom Bruce on the creeze, New Zealand reached 65/3 at the halfway stage of their innings.

Perfect swansong for Ashish Nehra

After the halfway mark of the innings, Kohli resorted to his spinners - Axar and Chahal - for the next set of spell and they reaped rich dividends by not allowing the Tom duo to open their arms and aim for the skies. Although Latham tried to employ his favourite sweep shots against the spinners for quite some time, Bruce failed to understand Kohli’s fieldset and going for a slog-sweep, he gave a simple catch to Rohit Sharma at deep cover. Axar sent the Kiwis to further troubled waters by getting the better of de Grandhomme within a space of two deliveries that reduced the visitors to 85/5 in 13 overs. Bumrah came out to bowl the 15th over and struck instantly by dismissing Henry Nicholls for 6 that almost ended New Zealand’s hopes of keeping up a 100% winning record against India in T20Is. Their worries were compounded even more when Dhoni stumped Latham in the 16th over of the innings when the Kiwis were on 99. The result was a foregone conclusion by then and the game ended in an emotional manner with Nehra bowling the final over of the game, in which he conceded only seven runs to end his career on a high.

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