India was against a team they had never defeated in T20Is before. And to change that bad record, they had to show complete performance with both bat and ball. The hosts did exactly that and made it even after the defeat in the first T20 against New Zealand with 53 runs victorious. It was also the last game of Ashish Nehra’s career and the Indian team made it unforgettable.
The Indian opener laid the platform for a great first innings overall as they embroidered a 158-opening partnership – the highest partnership for India for every wicket. Luck was also on their side as both, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, were dropped early in their innings. The Blackcaps had to pay a high price for the dropped catches as both decimated the bowlers and gave their respective half centuries.
At first it was Dhawan who was the attacker between the two, scoring his runs with a very impressive strike rate. The left-hander took a couple of powerful punches and at the same time used the bowler’s pace to play some fine punches. After a relaxed start also Rohit followed and changed his gears, after he had exceeded the 30 mark. He brought his fifty with a six on the ground and followed him with two more limits on the bowling alley of Mitchell Santner.
The New Zealand bowlers were unaware of how they could break the partnership that further removed the game from them. But it was not their fault they did not pick up a wicket, as the catchers abandoned them by dropping up to three catches. The breakthrough finally came in the 17th when Ish Sodhi Dhawan was released (80). In the same round he left Hardik Pandya behind and finished with a great spell of 2 for 25 in his foursome.
With the last three overs to go, India was 40 runs away to get 200. And it was the blitzkrieg of the Indian captain, Virat Kohli – who scored an 11-ball 26 – that ensured India finished with 202 runs in their 20 overs.
New Zealand clubs had to fight very well if they were to pursue this colossal goal. However, their start was not good as they both lost their heats for just 18 heats on the board. While Guptill was out of play due to a mistake by Hardik Pandya, Munro was cleaned up by Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a pitch-perfect York.
Then the experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Tom Latham came together and formed a nice little partnership to get the innings back on track. Williamson looked and was ready for at least fifty. However, his innings were cut short by Pandya, who got him trapped for 28. It was a loose delivery from the bowler, but the batsman could not make decent contact and gave the wicket keeper a slight catch.
A few overs later, visitors lost two more wickets, those of Tom Bruce and Colin de Grandhomme, and were at 84 for 5 at a dead end. Both were dismissed by Axar Patel, who with impressive numbers of 2 for 20 in his four overs.
New Zealand was almost out of the game and needed 113 runs to reach the last 6 overs. To make matters worse, they lost both Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham (39) in successive overs and were reduced to 99 for 7. At that point, it was certain that they would lose the game; the only thing left to know was how many runs. In the end, because of Mitchell Santner’s cameo – which smashed 27 of just 14 balls – the Kiwis were able to reduce the margin of defeat to 53 runs.