India started their overseas campaign against New Zealand with a 6-wicket victory in the 1st T20I at Eden Park, Auckland and took 0-1 lead in the 5-match series.
India won the toss and opted to bowl first on a wicket which looked good for batting. New Zealand were off to a flying start as their openers added 80 runs for the first wicket in just 7.5 overs and posted 203-5 in 20 overs. Chasing 204, India lost Rohit Sharma (7 runs off 6 balls) early. However, a solid partnership between KL Rahul (56 runs off 27 balls) and Virat Kohli (45 runs off 32 balls) set the tone for India. Despite losing a few wickets in the middle overs, India finished off the game with 6 wickets in hand and one over to spare thanks to an unbeaten innings of 58 runs (29 balls) from Shreyas Iyer.
India put up a fantastic show to win the first match of the tour. And now, let us look at the three main reasons for India's victory:
#1. Indian bowling in the death overs
The Indian bowlers struggled to keep the New Zealand batsmen in check and were taken for runs for most part of the innings. Although they got two quick wickets in the middle overs, those did not help their cause as the Black Caps continued to score runs with ease.
New Zealand were 165-3 at the end of the 16th over and were eying to post a big total. But the wicket of Kane Williamson taken by Yuzvendra Chahal (1/32) in the 17th over allowed India to get back into the match and the Indian bowlers did not miss the opportunity. Jasprit Bumrah (1/31) and Mohammed Shami (0/53) kept their lines tight and bowled brilliantly, Giving away just 25 runs in the last 3 overs, leaving New Zealand 10-15 runs short in batting-friendly conditions on a ground with very short boundaries.
#2. The Rahul-Kohli and Iyer-Pandey partnerships
To win the match, India needed to keep pace with the required run-rate without losing many wickets in the initial overs. The partnership between KL Rahul (56 runs off 27 balls) and Virat Kohli (45 runs off 32 balls) did just that for India. After the departure of Rohit Sharma, the duo took on the Kiwi bowlers and sent the ball to all the corners of the ground, adding 99 runs for the second wicket in just 50 balls and set the stage for India's win.
Although both the batsmen departed in quick succession followed by Shivam Dube (13 runs off 9 balls), India continued their surging chase as the pair of Shreyas Iyer (58* off 29 balls) and Manish Pandey (14* off 12 balls) took the onus of carrying India over the finish line. The 62-run partnership off 34 balls between the two, especially Iyer's onslaught in the penultimate over sealed the match for India without any hiccups.
#3. New Zealand's missed opportunities in fielding and bowling
Mitchell Santner (1/50) sent Rohit Sharma early and New Zealand needed few more wickets in the powerplay overs to keep the match under their control. And they did not have to wait for long as a miscommunication between KL Rahul and Virat Kohli gave the Kiwis the chance to run-out both the batsmen with ease, only to throw it away. Another opportunity came in the 9th over of the Indian innings when Ish Sodhi misjudged a skier off Kohli to give him the second reprieve in the match.
New Zealand once again found a way to get through the Indian middle-order after the wickets of Rahul, Kohli and Shivam Dube. Another couple of wickets could have done the job for them but this time too, the opportunity slipped out of their hands as the pair of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey proved to be too good to be stopped by their bowlers, eventually pushing New Zealand out of the game.
Also read | New Zealand vs India 2020, 1st T20I, Auckland: 3 observations from India's comprehensive win