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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

T20I: Top order takes a tumble as India fumble in opener

Both teams were surprised by the wicket but New Zealand played better cricket, says Hardik Pandya

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 28.01.23, 04:20 AM
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell during his unbeaten 59 off 30 balls in the first T20I against India at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Friday.

New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell during his unbeaten 59 off 30 balls in the first T20I against India at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Friday. PTI picture

In an ODI World Cup year, the Indians have been using the T20Is to experiment and try out a few combinations. The T20 World Cup is in 2024. But it could have its own pitfalls.

Like India found out in the opening T20I in Ranchi on Friday, that too within the first four overs of their chase when they were reduced to 15 for three. Shubman Gill failed to replicate his ODI form in the shortest version and Ishan Kishan couldn’t find runs on his home turf. Rahul Tripathi, the No.3 batter, seemed lost as the New Zealand bowlers struck early.

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It was left to Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya to play the saviour’s role in their chase of a 177-run target. Jacob Duffy was getting to move the ball while spinners Michael Bracewell and Mitchell Santner, encouraged by their Indian counterparts’ performance, seemed to limit their run-scoring ways while striking crucial blows.

It resulted in India making a mess of the target and losing by 21 runs. The next two matches are in Lucknow and Ahmedabad on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively.

India’s Washington Sundar, who took 2/22 and top-scored with a 28-ball 50, in Ranchi on Friday.

India’s Washington Sundar, who took 2/22 and top-scored with a 28-ball 50, in Ranchi on Friday. PTI photo

Surya shines

Surya and Pandya added 68 runs, but the New Zealand bowlers once again provided the breakthroughs at the right time. Surya fell for 47 off 34 balls to an Ish Sodhi googly just when he was looking to break free. The innings included six boundaries and two sixes.

Pandya left three balls later as he played for the turn and ended up with a top edge. The dew factor played on the Indian captain’s mind when he put New Zealand in to bat. But it didn’t seem to have much of an impact as the spinners had no trouble in gripping the ball.

Washington Sundar and Deepak Hooda faced an uphill task after they got together in the 13th over. But the likes of Santner, Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson were too experienced to err in line and length.

The Indians needed 67 off the last five overs and once Hooda left, the writing was on the wall. Sundar put in a brave effort with a 50 off 28 balls but it came too late in the innings.

Unless a top-order batter played a long innings, it would have always been tough to chase such a tall target. In their effort to be aggressive with the bat, the Indians lost regular wickets.

“Both teams were surprised by the wicket but New Zealand played better cricket. The new ball was turning more than the old ball. The way it turned and bounced, it surprised us, but till Surya and I were batting, we thought we would pull it off,” Pandya said after the match.

“In hindsight, we ended up giving 25 runs more. The way Washington bowled, batted and fielded, it was more like Washington against New Zealand than India against New Zealand. If he and Axar (Patel) can continue the way they are (playing), it will help the Indian cricket a lot,” he said.

Final over bungle

Conceding 27 runs off the final over of the innings by Arshdeep Singh gave New Zealand the momentum. The 18th and 19th overs had produced just 10 runs and the visitors needed to break free to put up a challenging total.

Once Arshdeep overstepped with the first delivery, Daryl Mitchell smashed his attempted yorker over long on for a six. The resultant freehit went over deep square leg for another six. Arshdeep then missed the yorker again and Mitchell hammered it over long on for the third consecutive six.

The left-arm pacer struggled with his accuracy as the next ball, a low full toss, went over point for a boundary. When the Indians seemed to have reined in the New Zealand batters, one over ruined Pandya’s plans.

The visitors got off to a flying start with 37 in the first four overs but were pegged back by a double-wicket blow from Sundar in the fifth over.

Devon Conway, who scored 138 in the third ODI in Indore, continued his purple patch with a 35-ball 52. Mitchell found rhythm in the slog overs, belting five sixes and one four to reach a 26-ball half-century.

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