Batsmen lead Team India to a defeat at Nagpur : The main draw clash in the ICC World Cup 2016 in the T20 format got underway at Jamtha, Nagpur, when the hosts India took on the ‘dark horse’ New Zealand.
The wicket was a ‘rank turner’ and the spinners in both the camps were seen quite charged up to roll over their arms.
It was evident that the toss winner would opt to bat first and take advantage of the slowing track later in the game. Dew factor was non-existent which made bowling in the second innings, even more sensible.
While Martin Guptill, opening the batting alongside his skipper, Kane Williamson, sent the first delivery into the orbit for an opening sixer, the second one saw him struggling to bring bat to the ball and being wrapped up on the pads.
On an appeal by the Indian fielders, Umpire Kumara Dharmasena wasted no time lifting his index finger towards the sky and Guptill had to walk back to the pavilion. However, the television replays showed that the ball would have clearly sailed over the stumps by almost a yard.
Soon thereafter Colin Munro (8) was accounted for by India’s most successful comeback bowler, Aashish Nehra.
While wickets kept tumbling at one end, Corey Andersen, held fort and kept the score board ticking.
A fifth-wicket partnership of 28 runs in 4.1 overs between Andersen and Mitchell Santner (18) gave some amount respectability to the score.
At half-way mark, Kiwis had out on just 55 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. Runs were hard to come by. The spinners Ashwin and Jadeja had kept the runs under check. Raina also was aiding them.
The 16th over saw Jasprit Bumrah remove the danger man Andersen. Trying to get under the third successive yorker bowled, Andersen moved towards the off-side to scoop the ball over shirt-fine leg. Missing the line completely, his middle stick was uprooted. Andersen scored 34 runs off 48 deliveries with 3 fours.
The score at this stage was 89 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 15.4 overs. With Andersen’s departure it was thought that Kiwis might fold up sub-100. However, a rearguard action by the wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi, who scored an unbeaten 21* runs off 11 deliveries with 2 fours and a six enabled the Black Caps to end their innings with 126 runs for the loss of 7 wickets in 20 overs.
Ashwin, Nehra, Bumrah, Jadeja and Raina picked up a wicket each. Pandya bowled the most expensive over. He bowled just one iver and gave away 10 runs.
The target of 127 runs seemed very much achievable with the ‘batting depth’ Team India had. An Indian victory was certain and taken for granted unless there was a serious collapse.
An ‘easy victory’ was easier said than done.
Kiwi spinners, Ish Sodhi and the left-armer Mitchell Santner proved themselves to be better than their Indian counterparts.
They exploited the conditions very much to their advantage and ‘foxed’ the Indian batsmen who are known to be the best players of spin bowling in the world.
Except Kohli (23), Dhoni (30) and Ashwin (10), no other batsmen cold reach the double digit. First Kohli and later on Dhoni held fort for sometime but had to ‘give in’ to superlative spin attack.
Both the Kiwi spinners shared seven wickets amongst themselves, while Indian innings could last only for 18.1 overs with just 79 runs n the board.
The last nail on the coffin was put by Milne when he had the middle stump of Aashish Nehra sent cart-wheeling, giving a ‘flying finish’ to the match.
Debutant Ish Sodhi ended with an analysis of 4-0-18-3. Santner, who finished with the figure of 4-0-11-4 was awarded the Player of the Match.
Having won the opening encounter, one more win would make situation easy for Kiwis to move to the KO stage.
Team India, back from a successful Asia Cup 2016 campaign, need to sit up, take notice, regroup and bounce back. Australia and Bangladesh are ‘tough customers’.