Week one of India's tour of New Zealand concluded with India gaining an unassailable lead of 3-0 over Blackcaps in the five T20 match series. In the first week we witnessed some high voltage drama together with a high scoring chase, raining of sixes, drop catches, tied game and a Paisa Vasool super over.
Just before the first game Indian skipper Virat Kohli mentioned in the press conference that "We are not touring New Zealand intending to take any revenge from last year. Kiwis are such nice people to take revenge, and we are here to play some competitive cricket".
1st T20 at Eden Park, Auckland
Indian skipper won the toss and decided to field first. Batting first Blackcaps openers batted to their strength by scoring quick 80 runs in just eight overs. Guptill and Munro gave New Zealand a flying start; as a result, Blackcaps maintained a run rate of 10 throughout of their inning.
As a result of fine half-centuries from Munro, Williamson and Taylor, Blackcaps scored 203 runs with the loss of five wickets.
Chasing a total of 204 India lost Rohit Sharma in the very second over. He was trapped by Santner on seven runs. KL Rahul and Kohli then had a partnership of 99 runs in next eight overs. Rahul scored 56 runs before departing, and Kohli followed him to the pavilion after seven deliveries as he was caught by Guptill on 45.
India lost Rahul, Kohli and Dube in quick succession henceforth Shreyas Iyer stepped up and scored an unbeaten half-century to take India to the finishing line. As a result of a brilliant partnership of 62 runs between Pandey and Iyer, India thrashed Blackcaps by six wickets with one over remaining.
Shreyas Iyer was given player of the match award for his spectacular 54* runs.
Ross Taylor at the post-match press conference answered the question "What was the difference between both teams today?"
The partnership between Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer was very crucial, and the difference between both teams today.
2nd T20 at Eden Park, Auckland
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first in the second T20 game at Eden Park. Guptill and Munro hit guardedly throughout the powerplay because the surface at Eden park turned out to be slower than the 1st game. Guptil was caught by Kohli on 33 runs at long-on while trying to hit the ball for six.
As a result of some economical bowling from Shami, Bumrah and Jadeja Blackcaps middle order struggled to score quick runs. For Blackcaps, Williamson, de Grandhomme and Taylor could add only 35 runs. Thanks to Seifert's quickfire 33 runs in the death overs, New Zealand managed to go past 130 runs mark in 20 overs.
Chasing 133 runs to win, India started very cautiously, but Rohit again fell cheaply. He scored 8 runs in just 6 balls. Rahul and Kohli added 31 runs in 26 balls, but the king of chase Kohli was caught behind the stumps on 11.
At one stage India looked in distress, but Rahul and Iyer helped India to get out of trouble. Rahul and Iyer continued their rich batting form as Rahul scored his second consecutive fifty in the series while Iyer fell short of his. Rahul and Iyer added vital 86 runs together to help India win this game. India chased a target of 133 runs with 15 balls remaining.
KL Rahul was awarded player of the match for his winning 57* runs.
Shreyas Iyer at the post-match press conference mentioned that
"Chasing is team India's biggest strength, and on winning the toss in the future team, India will definitely go for a chase."
3rd T20 at Seddon Park, Hamilton
Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to field first. The opening combination of Rahul and Rohit has not been fecund in the last two games with Rohit failing to score big runs. Rohit and Rahul rectified that at Seddon park as they produced 89 runs partnership for the first wicket. Hitman looked in right touch as he hit Hamish Bennett for 26 runs. Rahul fell on 27 runs at the end of 9th over.
India experimented by sending Shivam Dubey for number three, but the experiment failed miserably. India lost Dubey (3) and man in form Rohit (65) on 11th over. As a result of some excellent bowling from NZ and slow batting from Indian middle-order batsmen, India could only score 160 runs by 19 overs. As a result of some hard-hitting from Pandey and Jadeja in the final over, India managed to put on a respectable total of 179 runs in 20 overs.
Chasing in a do or die match, Blackcaps openers shone again as they scored quick 47 runs in 6 overs. Guptill was the first one to go followed by Munro who gifted his wicket to Jadeja. Guptil and Munro scored 31 and 14 runs respectively.
Since the openers got out for Blackcaps, it was a one-man show by Williamson. He smashed Indian bowlers all over the ground especially Bumrah in the 17th and 19th over. As a result of some skilful hitting from Kane, Blackcaps had 9 runs to chase in the final over.
In the last over Seddon park went noiseless but Shami removed Williamson on 95 as well as Taylor on the last ball when Blackcaps needed just one run to win. This is how the match ended up in a tie and required a super over to get the result.
Guptill and Williamson batted for Blackcaps, and Bumrah bowled for India in the super over. Batting skilfully Guptill and Williamson put on a challenging total of 17 runs in a super over.
While chasing 18 runs, Rohit and Rahul batted for India while Southee was given the responsibility to defend 18 runs. Southee bowled best of his ability for the first four balls allowing India to score only 7 runs. Rohit kept it calm when India needed 11 runs off last two balls, and he hit two humongous sixes to Southee. The whole Seddon park erupted with cheers, appreciation and emotions. What a roller coaster ride! What a game of cricket !!
For displaying spectacular batting skills under pressure Rohit Sharma was given player of the match award !!
Kane Williamson at the post-match press conference said: "Super Overs aren't really our friends."
Little known statistics about both teams and players (as at 3rd T20)
- KL Rahul has scored Seven 40+ scores in his last nine T20 innings.
- Kane Williamson's 95 runs vs India at Hamilton was his highest T20 international score.
- Virat Kohli is yet to lose a match as a captain on New Zealand soil.
- This T20 series vs New Zealand is India's first T20 series win against New Zealand in New Zealand.
- India won all three T20 games in this series by smashing six to Tim Southee.
- Five players from India and Blackcaps hit 50+ score in the 1st T20 game at Eden Park. Most in any T20 match.
Aakar Vyas is a cricket analyst based in Auckland and is a guest writer for The Indian Weekender.