After winning the ODI series 2-1, India hosted New Zealand in the shortest format of the game in the first T20I in Delhi. Ashish Nehra, who was playing his last international game for the country, received a perfect gift in the form of a commanding Indian victory over the Black Caps.
Playing in front of the home crowd, the veteran pacer couldn’t have asked for anything better. A truly astonishing performance from the hosts literally bamboozled the Kiwis as India took a 1-0 lead with 2 more matches to be played.
Sloppy fielding let India fly away
Keeping the dew factor in mind, New Zealand’s skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to bowl first. Mitchell Santner began well by conceding just 2 runs from the first over. Shikhar Dhawan then got going with a couple of fours in the next over. The left-hander got a lifeline when Santner dropped a sitter at cover-point.
There was no stopping Dhawan from then on as he collected boundaries on a consistent basis. Rohit Sharma was a little subdued at the other end as he watched his partner take the team’s score to 46 after the end of the powerplay. It was then Rohit’s turn to get a reprieve as Tim Southee put one down at long-off.
Indian openers on the charge
If you give even a sniff to the quality batsmen like these two, they will cash in more often than not. Dhawan kept the assault going while Rohit enjoyed it from the best seat in the house. The score reached 80 after 10 overs as Rohit also began to open his arms. Dhawan brought up his fifty in the 12th over off 37 balls and cranked it up a bit more.
The ball was sailing to all parts of the ground as the bowlers looked clueless. Rohit got to his fifty in style with a six in the 15th over and the 150 partnership came up in the next over. Dhawan was having the three-figure mark in the hindsight but got out stumped off Ish Sodhi for 80 off 52 balls. Hardik Pandya walked in at No.3 but fell without scoring to the leg-spinner.
Kohli’s finishing touch
Virat Kohli came in and hammered a six off the 2nd ball he faced. Another maximum soon announced his intentions in the middle. Rohit tried going after Boult in the penultimate over but a bottom edge to the keeper ended his knock of 80 off 55 balls.
Kohli then slammed the first ball of the last over for a six and MS Dhoni tonked the first ball he faced for a gigantic six over deep mid-wicket. India finished with a huge score of 202/3 at the end of 20 overs as Kohli scored an unbeaten 26 off just 11 balls.
An ideal start for the hosts
Nehra started well by giving away just 5 runs from the first over. But the show was stolen by a breathtaking catch by Hardik Pandya in the 2nd over. Martin Guptill lofted a flighted delivery from Yuzvendra Chahal and Pandya covered a long distance from long-off to in front of the sightscreen and dived full length to his right to complete a stunning catch.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar castled Colin Munro in the 4th over to peg the visitors back. Williamson and Tom Latham tried steadying the ship and took the score to 33/2 after 6 overs. The scoring was difficult as the Indian bowlers bowled immaculate lines and didn’t allow the run-rate to go up.
All downhill for the Black Caps
Pandya came into bowl and dismissed Williamson off the first ball. Tom Bruce struck a boundary but fell to Axar Patel for 10. Colin de Granhomme departed without scoring to the left-arm spinner as the Kiwis struggled at 84/5 after 13 overs. Jasprit Bumrah accounted for the wicket of Henry Nicholls and Chahal dismissed Latham for 39 in the 16th over.
Bumrah bagged another in the form of Southee while Santner struck a few hits but those were all too late. Needing 61 from the last over, Kohli threw the ball to Ashish Nehra. The stage was set and emotions ran through each delivery. With a short run-up, he bowled all 6 deliveries and conceded 7 runs from the last over of his career to end with figures of 29/0 from 4 overs.
India won the match by 53 runs and as soon as the match ended, it was all about Ashish Nehra. He did a lap of honor around the Kotla and thanked his local fans. Kohli and Dhawan lifted him up on the shoulders to bid goodbye to one of the most honest servants of Indian cricket.
New Zealand won the toss and opted to bowl first
India: 202/3 in 20 overs
Shikhar Dhawan 80, Rohit Sharma 80
Ish Sodhi 25/2, Trent Boult 49/1
New Zealand: 149/8 in 20 overs
Tom Latham 39, Kane Williamson 28
Axar Patel 20/2, Yuzvendra Chahal 26/2
India won by 53 runs
Player of the Match: Shikhar Dhawan