The world No. 1 T20I team – New Zealand – bounced back with an impressive 40 runs win at Rajkot to level the series 1-1. As Harsha Bhogle summed up the result after the match, the Kiwis were ahead of India for all the 40 overs that were bowled during the match – such was their dominance.
After winning the toss, the visitors put up a daunting total of 196, thanks to a blistering 109 off 58-ball from Colin Munro. In reply, the hosts could only manage 156-7 on a batting-friendly pitch.
Here are four reasons why India lost the match to New Zealand:
Colin Munro’s heroics
New Zealand’s decision to promote Munro to the top-order from the middle-order for the tour of India paid rich dividends on Sunday. The southpaw had some success in the ODIs, but on a batting friendly pitch at Rajkot, he produced a sensational knock – which single-handedly turned the fortunes around for the Black Caps.
Indian fielders also played a generous role in Munro’s blistering knock as he got reprieves on 45 and 79. But as most good players do, the opener made the most of the chances provided to him to notch up his second T20I ton – only the fourth batsman to do so.
Ineffective outing for spinners
It wasn’t a great day for spinners. There wasn’t much support from the pitch as Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel struggled to either put brakes on the run-rate or take wickets. Both spinners conceded 75 runs in 7 overs they bowled and picked up only one wicket.
The conditions got better in the second innings as Kiwi spinners made life difficult for Indian batters. Mitch Santner and Ish Sodhi conceded merely 56 runs in eight overs and also removed Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya.
India relies heavily on its openers to set up big totals or chase down difficult looking targets. In the ODI decider at Kanpur, Rohit Sharma struck a ton to take India to series victory, while in the first T20I, Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan made 80 each to lay a solid foundation for the hosts.
With the middle-order still a work in progress, it becomes imperative for one of the two openers to play a significant innings. However, Trent Boult perfectly exploited the chink in India’s armour at Rajkot. The pacer removed both Dhawan and Rohit in the second over of the match to leave Virat Kohli with an insurmountable task.
MS Dhoni’s curious case
With openers gone for 11 runs on the board, Kohli needed a big partnership to steer India to a victory. Shreyas Iyer provided some support with his 23, while Pandya lasted only for two balls. In search of a partner, Kohli, who was in supreme touch last night never found the perfect ally.
Dhoni made a 37-ball 49, but it was far from what India needed. The blame for the loss could not be put just on Dhoni. He walked in to bat with 130 required from 65 runs – a difficult equation for any batsman. But it was his struggle to get going which made for a disappointment.
26 of his runs came from three sixes and two fours. The remaining of his 23 runs came off 32 deliveries. His inability to rotate strike against spinners enabled Kiwis to place stranglehold on India and also put pressure on Kohli, who got out after making 65. His struggles also begs the question: Is Dhoni still a viable option in ODIs?
Feature image: BCCI