New Delhi: Catches win matches and the Kiwis learnt it the hard way in the opening T20I at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Wednesday as India registered their first win over New Zealand in the shortest format of the game. While the visitors dropped Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya took a blinder running at long off to send back Martin Guptill and peg the Kiwis back from the word go in their chase.
In the end, Kane Williamson’s boys managed just 149/8 as the hosts gave Ashish Nehra the best possible farewell gift in his last international game, a 53-run win. Here is Cricketnext's analysis of each and every Indian player from Wednesday's match.
Shikhar Dhawan: Rating 10: Verdict: Excellent
Virat Kohli said at the toss that he would have fielded if he had won the toss, but Dhawan ensured that the skipper had reasons to smile. Dropped on 8 by Mitchell Santner, Dhawan made the Kiwis pay heavily as he sent them on a leather hunt. Pitched up or bowled short, it all went to the boundary. Dhawan looked like a man possessed as he took the attack to the Kiwi bowlers from the second over and kept hitting them all round the park till he was finally dismissed for a 52-ball 80 by Ish Sodhi. Considering that his last 30-plus score had come against Bangladesh in the final of the 2016 Asia Cup, it was indeed a top-notch effort.
Rohit Sharma: Rating 10: Verdict: Excellent
He did start slowly and looked slightly off colour, but Dhawan’s fine form ensured that he had the time to pick the ones and twos while Dhawan kept the run-rate on the higher ends with the boundaries. But once Rohit reached the 40s, he looked a different cricketer altogether as he sent the Kiwi bowlers on a leather hunt. In fact, he was so severe on the New Zealand bowlers that even Kane Williamson had a smile on his face after some of his shots. The Kiwi skipper had no option but to admire the high quality batsmanship on display. Interestingly, Rohit too got a chance as he was dropped by Tim Southee on 16.
Virat Kohli: Rating 10: Verdict: Excellent
Another brilliant display from the India skipper both with bat and with the bowling changes. The only slight pointer that could go against the captain could be his decision to promote Hardik Pandya ahead of himself in the batting order when he himself is one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball. In fact, one of his sixes went onto the roof of the Kotla on Wednesday. While Dhawan and Rohit had set the perfect platform, it was also important for the Indians to finish well and that is exactly what they did thanks to Kohli and his brilliant finishing skills in the shortest format of the game. He was also spot on with ringing in the changes in the bowling department.
Hardik Pandya: Rating 8.5: Verdict: Very Good
He might have failed with the bat as he looked to go big from the word go, but the diving catch at long off to send back Martin Guptill off Yuzvendra Chahal’s bowling will be remembered for some time. Running sideways, he almost finished at long on when he completed the catch. The Indians were clearly overjoyed as it was the perfect start to the defense for the Indians. While he did drop Munro, he did come back with the ball to dismiss Kane Williamson. It was a prized wicket at that time as Williamson was combining well with Tom Latham and the two could have caused some damage.
MS Dhoni: Rating 8: Verdict: Good
With all the top-order batsmen striking gold, Dhoni too finished off in style as he hit a six over wide long on, much to the delight of the Kotla crowd. When it came to defending the target, Dhoni was again spot on as he kept guiding the Indian bowlers from behind the wicket with constant guidance. With dew playing a major role, it was important for Dhoni to guide the young India bowlers.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Rating 5: Verdict: Average
Getting dangerman Colin Munro was important for India as he has the ability to run away with the game and Bhuvneshwar did just that as he sent back the southpaw with the perfect yorker. Munro was literally waiting on the backfoot and the full-pitched ball was too good for the left-hander. While he did not pick anymore wicket, he did bowl a good line and length to ensure that he bowled well under the asking rate.
Axar Patel: Rating 9: Verdict: Very Good
Having failed to create much of an impact in the final ODI against the Kiwis, Axar came back with a bang in the first T20I. Dew was expected to trouble the Indian bowlers, especially spinners. But none of that bothered Axar as he picked two crucial wickets in Tom Bruce and Colin de Grandhomme. Axar returned impressive figures of 2/20 despite the dew cover on the outfield.
Yuzvendra Chahal: Rating 8: Verdict: Very Good
Chahal has been Virat Kohli’s go-to-man in the Royal Challengers Bangalore set-up for the last few seasons and the wily leg-spinner showed once again on Wednesday why he is rated so highly by the India skipper. While Chahal started with Martin Guptill’s wicket in his very first over, he came back later to dismiss the dangerous Tom Latham in the 16th over. Latham has been a thorn in the flesh for the Indians right through the ODI series and on Wednesday again he looked like he was plotting a fight for the Kiwis. But Chahal had the last laugh as Dhoni completed a smart stumping behind the wicket.
Jasprit Bumrah: Rating 4: Verdict: Average
Clearly the star of the show on Sunday as he pulled India back from the jaws of defeat and handed India the series winning 6-run win in the final ODI of the series. But the start of the T20I series wasn’t as good for the pacer as he went for 37 runs from his 4 overs. In fact, even as other bowlers impressed, Bumrah sprayed it around a bit and he needs to get his act right as the team wouldn’t have a 200-run cushion every time.
Ashish Nehra: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
It was touted as Ashish Nehra’s farewell match and while the Delhi crowd and the Indian players gave him a fitting send-off, Nehra did not have much to write home about from his last encounter. It was only apt that he bowled the last over of the game as New Zealand were by then well and truly out of the match. Nehra finished with figures of 0/29 off his 4 overs in his final outing.
Shreyas Iyer: Rating N/A: Verdict: N/A
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