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A comprehensive victory by six wickets, the top order producing a flurry of runs unbound by the variety in New Zealand bowling, the captain seeming in fine touch, and a prodigy getting off to a fantastic start in his first away tour to Kiwi-land, firing the winning runs with an over to spare!
India couldn’t have possibly asked for a better start to their New Zealand tour as they recorded a fantastic 6-wicket win over the hosts in the first of the five T20 internationals here at Auckland.
A game where freely scored runs set the early tempo to the series, the constricted ground size aiding the batsmen on both sides, the first T20 wasn’t nearly the game that belonged to the bowlers.
But India, whose batters made the often catchy art of high scoring run chase seem all the more easy won’t complain one bit.
On a lush green top that looked as certain to assist batsmen as does a finely baked pizza to someone famished, over 400 runs were scored at Auckland with disdainful ease, India emerging on top of their hosts to fire the opening salvo.
On a day where lots of in-form batsmen seemed in fine touch- Munro, Guptill, Taylor and the captain Williamson- dishing out useful individual scores to aid New Zealand to a bankable score, there was nothing that the hosts could do to keep a fiery Indian line-up quiet, that bettered the big ask of 204 with an over to spare.
Interestingly, this is when Rohit Sharma departed early for India.
But what were the talking points from India vs NZ First T20I 2020?
New Zealand’s poor bowling
Among the key talking points from India vs NZ first T20I 2020, especially from an Indian perspective was the rather lacklustre bowling effort of Williamson’s side.
That the team seemed to miss the promising services of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson was surely a dampener for the hosts, one from which it would ever recover. But what was particularly hurting was to see how little trouble could the likes of Tim Southee- the most experienced New Zealand bowler in the side provided to a batting line up for whom scoring runs seemed bread in butter; ever an easy ask!
That New Zealand attacked India with the likes of Bennet – making his T20 debut- and Tickner- just 3 games under his belt- spoke how deprived was the attack of useful firepower and promise.
What hurt New Zealand’s chances mightily of defending 203, any day an above power score, was something more than the high economy rates the bowlers conceded. It was the fact that of the 19 overs bowled by the BlackCaps, there were 11 extras bowled. This included 10 wides, 8 by the spinners alone. Do the math and you realise that New Zealand actually bowled nearly 2 extra overs.
Bowling lethargically perhaps not sticking to the right length and a clear absence of plans for the Indian batsmen hurt Williamson’s cause, his batsmen doing well enough to tick the big box of scoring lots of runs.
Yet it wasn’t going to be ever enough for the Kiwis to defend.
KL Rahul and Virat Kohli’s stand
What can any bowling attack do when it meets not one but two fantastic and world class batsmen? That a depleted NZ side was up against world cricket’s highest T20 accumulator of 2019 in Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, who with his unsparing blade reduced the bowling to shreds was the haunting factor that flavoured New Zealand’s unsuccessful defence of a mighty score of 203.
For the better part of the game, you wondered if one couldn’t protect a 200-plus score then what good is any team total to keep India at bay?
But luckily while the fan doesn’t have to step into Williamson’s shoes, it suffices to say that among the key talking points from India vs New Zealand First T20 2020 was the game changing third wicket stand between two gifted stroke markers.
The very fact that Kohli and Rahul compiled a flattering 99-runs between them from just a little over 8 overs spoke of the power and rate at which they hammered the likes of Southee, Sodhi and Santner and underlined the woes for the bowling side in a game that always seemed to fancy the batsmen.
Kohli, who actually played his maiden T20 in New Zealand ticked off his first appearance with a successful outing with the bat and as captain firing not accumulating 45 much needed runs including some stellar strokes toward the on side.
His partner at the other end, the wrecker-in-chief, KL Rahul made 56 but off just 27 balls displaying the oomph that only a high class wristy batsman of his ability could’ve brought to the game. This early impetus shown by India after Rohit departed early set the tempo of the carnage that was to come as Iyer walked into bat after Rahul departed after his fifty.
Williamson and Ross Taylor power NZ to a competitive score
The fact that New Zealand- despite missing out on some key players- clicked against a very impressive Indian bowling line up was in itself, a mighty fine achievement, as seen in the first half of the game, even as the contest would begin to slip away from Williamson’s teams grip later on.
But it could be said that the alliance between the master crafter Williamson and the experienced hitter Ross Taylor was the kind of partnership that one saw later in the Indian inning, albeit one forged with greater success.
To his credit, as Ross Taylor reached a well complied fifty, his first in 6 years, holding the fort when Williamson departed , it did occur whether the side batting first had put the stamp of success on the game. Of course, India’s rebuttal later on completely changed the narrative that until such time had been favouring the Kiwis.
The 61-run stand off just 24 balls saw Williamson in fine touch. The captain, with a vital fifty- his quick fire 51 coming off just 26 deliveries- saw the likes of Chahal being punished with absolute severity. Although Chahal would have the last laugh, finishing the right hander it wasn’t before the grafter in Williamson had sculpted 3 gorgeous boundaries, one each toward the deep square leg, mid off and deep mid wicket region.
Shreyas Iyer’s run chase
While the opening touch of a successful run chase was provided by the extremely beautiful stork play shared by Rahul and Kohli, it was Shreyas Iyer’s heroics down there order that made the run chase a thrilling exposition of hitting toward the end of the innings.
Claiming his first fifty in New Zealand, a destination where he hasn’t batted previously, it seemed that the high asking rate – clearly in the north of 10 to 11 an over- toward the death overs hardly bothered the belligerent right hander.
Iyer’s maiden T20 fifty against New Zealand, at a time where the onus of executing the run chase was on his young and able shoulders albeit in foreign condition , was clearly among the big talking points from India Vs NZ First T20I 2020.
That he made most of the T20 debutant Bennett’s inexperience, using the pace of the ball on many an occasion to help himself to a boundary on one occasion too many was perhaps Iyer’s big successes during India’s successful run chase.
In the end, Iyer’s 58 came of just 29 balls at a ballsy strike rate of 200. This then also gave a view of the sheer depth of batting that Kohli’s line up boasts of at the moment where despite the bowling side getting the top three early- if it ever happens- surely it won’t be ever easy to mow down batsmen line Dube, Manish Pandey and the man of the moment: Shreyas Iyer.
Ish Sodhi’s fine spin
One of the underrated but effective constituents of the talking points from India va NZ First T20I 2020 was Ish Sodhi’s superb returns from the maiden contest of the series.
That he bowled his full quota of 4 overs and conceded 36 runs, not an awful lot for a Kiwi bowler on a day where India were cruising in early at a rate of over 10 immediately at the start was a fascinating return for the experienced leggie.
What’s more? That Ish Sodhi – a bowler with a proclivity of tossing the ball liberally and on many an occasion taking the pace of the leg spinners, ended up with 2 victims was every bit meaningful as it was impactful.
Although, that said, the pic of the Kiwi bowlers would wonder about the easy chance he grassed off Tickner when fielding in the deep third man boundary he put down Virat Kohli of all batsmen!
Was that the game set and done for NZ?