India 155 for 3 (Rahul 65, Rohit 55, Southee 3-16) beat New Zealand 153 for 6 (Phillips 34, Mitchell 31, Harshal 2-25, Ashwin 1-19) with seven wickets
Guptill tees off
Bhuvneshwar Kumar hit a terrific first over with most goals, where he went full, found turns and gave Guptill all sorts of trouble. But it ended with Bhuvneshwar wicketless and Guptill on 14 of 6, after hitting three fours – none of which came from the right center of the bat – and had been dropped once, by Rahul, who ran back from the middle.
The swing disappeared and the runs kept flowing, with the dew – which set in even before the match began – apparently causing the ball to rush into the bat and allowing both openers to hit floating through the line. Guptill managed the bulk of the shot and had already hit two vintage straight sixes before Deepak Chahar dismissed him with a well-aimed short ball in the fifth over. For the second match in a row, he had rejected Guptill immediately after being hit for six. New Zealand at the time was 48 for 1 in 4.2 overs.
Mark Chapman found the limit twice before the powerplay ended, and with 64 for 1 saw New Zealand heading towards 180 or more. But a combination of excellent bowling, a pitch that turned out to be less of a better one than it had initially seemed, and a batting line-up that could not quite grasp any of them , made sure they ended up very short.
As he has been in every single match since his comeback to India’s white ball line-up, Ashwin was a powerful, varied pace, lane, line and release expert to ensure that the ball never quite reached where the batter wanted it, or on it. way he wanted it. And once again, his range of angles and variations allowed him to make a mockery of theoretical match-ups. By the end of his four overs – which he finished with 1 for 19 – he had bowled 71 balls to right-handed players since his T20I comeback, while conceding only 51 runs and zero limits.
Harshal’s slower ball, meanwhile, proved just as effective at international debut as it had done through his record-breaking 2021 IPL season along with the long boundaries at JSCA Stadium. He conceded just 25 in his four overs and took wickets by Mitchell and Glenn Phillips, both caught in the deep.
Post-powerplay, New Zealand scored only 89 with 6.36 per. That New Zealand finished with 153 was largely due to the quick hands of Phillips, who hit three sixes in the score of 34 of 21.
The silence, the storm
The goal did not require India to explode out of the blocs and it allowed Rahul and Rohit to ease their way into their laps. Rahul took the bulk of the attack in the powerplay – 26 balls for the Rohits 10 – and moved evenly to 32 in that time, and the timing ball quite exquisite at times – a drive past mid-off and a flat six over extra-cover, both out for Trent Boult, was particularly easy on the eye.
At the 6-over mark, India were 45 without a loss, and the next three overs – beaten by Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner – brought no boundaries. In the first T20I, Suryakumar Yadav had taken control of his match-up against Todd Astle’s leg spin, allowing Rohit to strike at a leisurely pace against spin after a rolling start against quicks; now that neither Rohit nor Rahul are particularly known for going after spin in mid-overs, there was potential for the anxiety to creep into India’s laps despite the required rate being under control.
Rohit put any such anxiety to bed by accepting Santner in the 10th over. Provided for Santner’s ball – sliding in from the back of a length with the angle of the left arm around – Rohit made a huge amount of space and pulled his first ball in six.
Then he cleared his front leg and hit another flat shooter to a six over long-on. Santner almost got revenge the next ball as he slowed down, made the ball turn and bounce a little more than usual and caused Rohit to fail a strike-sweep, but Boult put a hard chance to run in from a long time. .
Rahul and Rohit then took 26 of the next two overs, in addition to Adam Milne and Boult, and India were 105 without a loss at the required rate down to almost a run a ball.
Southee triggers a wobble
Just as it did for Harshal, the slower ball into the field began to give Tim Southee rewards. At 65, Rahul appeared to whip him over the leg boundary, but failed to clear the boundary rider. In his next over, Southee got a slower ball to hold on to the pitch and climbed awkwardly on Rohit, who hit a catch for short coverage. When Suryakumar put another slower cutter into his pieces at the end of it over, India had two new batteries on fold with 17 required from 24.
A vaguely similar situation had led to an unexpectedly close end in Jaipur, but India did not let it go that deep here. Venkatesh Iyer – promoted to No. 3 after not needing the ball again – looked nervous but took a couple of angular fours before Rishabh Pant completed the job and smashed Neesham for back-to-back sixes at the start of the fight. 18. over and ended the game with a trademark one-handed stroke.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo