KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer scored fifties, as India chased down New Zealand’s 203/5 with an over to spare in the first of the five T20Is in Auckland on Friday, 24 January.
This was India’s fourth successful chase of 200 or more in the format, a feat no other team has achieved more than twice. The visitors showed early intent in their innings, scoring 21 off the first two overs, but lost Rohit in the process, who miscued one to Ross Taylor at backward point off Mitchell Santner, giving the bowler his 50th T20I scalp.
Skipper Virat Kohli (45) then joined KL Rahul and the pair continued to accelerate as India reached 65/1 at the end of the Powerplay. New Zealand had their chances though; on the second ball of the sixth over, a horrible mix-up between the two right-handers presented an opportunity to run out either man, only for the fielders to make a mess of it. Two overs later, Ish Sodhi failed to get his hands onto a skier to give Kohli a reprieve on 33.
Rahul reached his fifty in the same over, taking full toll of a free-hit from Blair Tickner to send it soaring into the long-on stands. He fell to Sodhi in the next over before Guptill’s outstanding catch at the deep mid-wicket fence off Blair Tickner’s bowling helped dismiss Kohli to bring the hosts back in business. Shivam Dube, sent in ahead of Manish Pandey, hit a four and a six, but when Sodhi removed him on 13, India still needed 61 off 40 balls.
Shreyas Iyer then took charge, finding the ropes at regular intervals with support from Pandey (14*) at the other end. With 18 needed off the final two, Iyer first dismissed Tim Southee for a six and a four, the second of which got him to his second T20I fifty. He finished the game in that same over with another massive hit over cow corner to complete a six-wicket win.
Earlier, openers Martin Guptill (30) and Colin Munro (59) gave Indian bowlers a run-around, after Kohli won the toss and opted to bat. They were particularly severe on Mohammad Shami and Shardul Thakur, who collectively leaked as many as 53 runs from four overs in the powerplay.
Rohit grabbed a fine take at the edge of the deep square leg fence to dismiss Guptill, while Munro fell not long after reaching his 10th fifty. Ravindra Jadeja then got the better of Colin de Grandhomme, before the senior batsmen, skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, both scored quickfire fifties to power New Zealand past 200. Williamson took some time early on, managing just a single from his first five balls before hitting out, while Taylor’s innings was highlighted with some trademark swats over the square-leg boundary.
The second of the five T20Is will be played on Sunday, 26 January at the same venue.