–India 202 (Dhawan 80, Rohit 80) beat New Zealand 149 for 8 (Latham 39) by 53 runs
NEW DELHI: In American football, a fumble – when a player doesn’t catch or control the ball cleanly – results in loss of possession and significant momentum. A team on the charge then has to guard the opponent’s offence. Cricket’s equivalent is a drop catch. New Zealand dropped three catches of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharmaand Virat Kohli. All batsmen then went on the offence to carry India to 202, a total they defended by 53 runs to register their first T20I win against New Zealand.
Dhawan was dropped by Mitchell Santner at cover point for 8 in the second over, and Rohit by Southee at long-off on 16. Both batsmen found their hitting rhythm right after their reprieves, and finished with 80 apiece. Together they added 158, the highest opening partnership for India in T20Is.
Dhawan and Rohit not only have the left and right-hand combination in their favour, they both also have the advantage of preferring different lengths. When New Zealand’s seamers dropped short, Dhawan slashed and slapped merrily on either side of the wicket. New Zealand’s natural instinct was therefore to bowl a fuller length, for which Rohit was waiting, going through with lofted drives straight. It was, therefore, unsurprising that Rohit hit six fours and four sixes, and Dhawan 10 fours and two sixes.
That New Zealand didn’t have a lot more than 200 to chase was down to Ish Sodhi’s legspin. Sodhi used his variations, the googly and the flipper in addition to a ripping legbreak to keep with the recent trend of wristspin dominating the world. A surface that offered turn aided him. Bowling the 17th over, he fired a googly wide outside off after seeing Dhawan advancing, and had him caught behind. Two balls later, he had Hardik Pandya caught behind with a turning legbreak.
New Zealand then had to contend with a wet ball and Kohli in sensational form, hitting through the line to almost any length. Tim Southee and Trent Boult bowled a back of a length, conscious of avoiding bowling full. But Kohli met the ball early, and let his immense bottom-hand power take the ball over midwicket. He was, however, dropped by Martin Guptill at deep midwicket on 8. He finished with a 11-ball 26, the kind of cameo that substantially increases margins in T20s.
With Rohit on 80, he was given out caught behind to a wide yorker, but the third umpire was asked to check if the edge hit the ground en route to the keeper. Bizarrely, Anil Chaudhary reversed the on-field decision and soft signal of out, adjudicating that “bat hit the ground” without sufficient evidence. New Zealand reviewed the decision, and had it overturned. Confused expressions abounded all around the Feroz Shah Kotla.
New Zealand’s confusion turned to helplessness in their reply. In the second over, Yuzvendra Chahal had a wide long-off because the ball spinning away tends to go squarer off the outside half of the bat. Martin Guptill, though, managed to hit Chahal straight back over his head. Hardik Pandya ran around to his right, but as he realized he wasn’t going to get there, he put in a full-length dive, both feet off the air, and plucked a two-handed stunner that is every wide receiver’s dream in American football.
In the fourth over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar executed a terrific yorker, quick and straight, and Munro’s inside edge could only find middle stump. When Kane Williamson and Tom Latham decided to rebuild, instead of counter-attacking, the game was done. They fell well behind the asking rate against a potent attack.
Williamson was caught behind off an attempted cut for 28. Tom Bruce and Colin de Grandhomme were both caught in the deep midwicket region off Axar Patel. Tom Latham continued his form, top-scoring with a labored 39, before he was stumped off Chahal.
Ashish Nehra’s farewell game wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either. He had two tough catches dropped off his bowling, by Pandya running back from cover point in the third over, and by Kohli, who couldn’t hold on to a sharp one-handed overhead catch at mid-off. He finished with 0 for 29, and a lap of honour around his home ground to culminate an 18-year career. Shreyas Iyer did not get to bat on his international debut.