India defeated New Zealand by five wickets in the first Paytm T20 international in the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. What seemed to be an easy chase, for the most part, went down to the wire, thanks to a fierce comeback by the Kiwi bowlers. Suryakumar was adjudged as the Player of the Match for his 62 off 40.
Rohit Sharma, who officially took over the long-term T20 captaincy of the national team, won the toss and elected to bowl first against the Tim Southee-led New Zealand team. Both teams were playing without a few key players, in Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah for India and Kane Williamson for the blackcaps.
India started well by getting Daryl Mitchell for a duck in the first over. However, the experienced Martin Guptill and the newcomer Mark Chapman played well for the hundred-run stand between them. Guptill played defiant innings of 70 off 42 to help the team reach a respectable total. Mark Chapman had the big shoes of the regular skipper Kane Williamson to fill in, and he did well with a hard-working 63 off 50.
Besides the two top-order batters, none of the New Zealand batters showed promise. The Indian bowling lineup was disciplined. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who struggled in the World T20, fared well in his four overs, where he gave 24 runs for two wickets. Likewise, Ravi Ashwin got two crucial wickets right when the World Cup finalists were eyeing a big score.
The Indian captain and deputy garnered 56 runs in the powerplay. The stylish batting duo maximized the team’s chances by showing raw aggression in the initial few overs. Although expected, there was little dew to be seen in the Jaipur.
After the fall of the first wicket, Rohit, along with his Mumbai Indians teammate, stabilized the innings. The latter started with caution and accelerated in the fag end of the middle overs to keep the team in a commanding position. After staging a partnership of more than 50, the Indian skipper misread a slower bouncer off Boult and handed it over to the short fine leg. Sharma missed his 25th T20I half-century by two runs.
Suryakumar took over after the wicket and tried to finish things off quickly. The right-hander lost his wicket at 62, playing one of his signature shots to Boult. Pressure increased as the Blackcaps staged an impressive mini-comeback, with three economical overs and one wicket in the meantime.
With 9 required off 6, the bowl was given to a part-timer Daryl Mitchell. Venkatesh Iyer announced himself with a powerful shot towards the mid-wicket, only to lose his wicket in the very next ball. However, the a four over long off by India’s wicket-keeper batter ended the proceedings of an anti-climatic fixture.
With the victory, India now leads the three-match T20I series by 1-0. The second match will be played on the 19th in Ranchi.
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