Winning start for Rahul Dravid as India head coach as his side beat New Zealand by five wickets; Suryakumar Yadav fires 62 for the hosts with half-centuries for Martin Guptill and Mark Chapman coming in vain for T20 World Cup runners-up New Zealand, who suffer second defeat in four days.
T20 World Cup runners-up New Zealand suffered a second defeat in four days in the format as India edged to victory with two balls to spare in Rahul Dravid’s first game as head coach.
New Zealand tumbled to an eight-wicket loss to Australia in Sunday’s World Cup final in Dubai and went down to India by five wickets in Jaipur on Wednesday, albeit that this result was a lot closer.
India appeared to be cruising to their victory target of 165 as captain Rohit Sharma (48 off 36) and Suryakamar Yadav (62 off 40) reduced the requirement to 23 from 24 balls in the first game of the three-match series.
However, three boundary-less overs, which included the dismissals of Suryakumar and Shreyas Iyer (5), dragged New Zealand back into the match and left India needing 10 from Daryl Mitchell’s final six deliveries
Debutant Venkatesh Iyer (4 off 2) pulled the first legal ball he faced for four, before being caught on the reverse sweep next delivery and then, after a wide and a single and with three needed from three balls, Rishabh Pant (17no off 17) lofted the match-winning boundary over mid-off.
Pant’s four ensured a winning start for Dravid who has succeeded Ravi Shastri as coach, and his team can now wrap up a series victory with a game to spare in Ranchi on Friday, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 1.20pm.
India’s win in Jaipur came two and a half weeks after they fell to an eight-wicket thrashing to New Zealand in the T20 World Cup, a result which ultimately proved a hammer blow to their semi-final hopes.
India were without rested former captain Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja for Wednesday’s game, while New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson – who scored a sparkling 85 from 48 balls in defeat against Australia on Sunday – is also sitting out this series.
Williamson’s replacement at No 3, Mark Chapman (63 off 50), and Martin Guptill (70 off 42) put on 109 for the Kiwis’ second wicket, in-between Mitchell (0 off 1) and Glenn Phillips (0 off 3) being dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-24) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2-23) respectively.
Mitchell was bowled by a supreme in-swinger from Bhuvneshwar in the first over of the game after Rohit won the toss and elected to bowl.
Chapman’s fifty was his first for New Zealand in T20 internationals, having previously scored a half-century for his native Hong Kong against Oman in 2015, while Guptill’s knock marked the first time in 14 innings that he had passed fifty in a T20I against India, topping his previous best of 45.
Guptill holed out off Deepak Chahar (1-42) two balls into the 18th over, one delivery after smoking a six, and New Zealand scored just 14 more runs from that point as they posted 164-6, with Tim Seifert (12), caught off Bhuvneshwar, and Rachin Ravindra (7), bowled by Mohammed Siraj (1-39), also falling amid a fine fightback from India.
Chapman, who did not make an appearance during New Zealand’s run to the T20 World Cup final, had been bowled by Ashwin in the 14th over, three balls after Phillips had been trapped lbw.
Williamson’s absence – he will be back at the helm for the two-Test series later this month – meant Tim Southee led New Zealand and the captain endured a chastening experience in the third over of the chase, taken for 15 as Rohit crunched back-to-back off-side fours and then a leg-side six.
Rohit also did most of the damage during Trent Boult’s 21-run, four-boundary fifth over as India raced to 50-0, only for KL Rahul (15 off 14) to then be caught by Chapman at deep square leg, off Mitchell Santner (1-19).
Suryakumar maintained the aggression, bossing a stand of 59 with Rohit for the second wicket, before the captain was caught off a Boult bouncer.
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