India v New Zealand, World T20 2016, Group 2, Nagpur March 15, 2016

NZ spin trio routs India on raging turner

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New Zealand 126 for 7 (Anderson 34, Bumrah 1-15, Raina 1-16) beat India 79 (Dhoni 30, Santner 4-11, Sodhi 3-18) by 47 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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For a long time, this New Zealand team was under the charge of a man who loved a gamble or two. But would even Brendon McCullum have been funky enough to go up to his two best bowlers, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, on the team's opening match of a World T20 and say, 'Pick up the bibs, lads. You're out.'? Kane Williamson did. He saw a dry Nagpur pitch, heard how the ball had turned during the qualifier games at the venue and asked Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi to clock in for duty. The first of those three spinners is in the twilight of his career, the other two had played only five T20Is each. And India had no answers against them.

No one expected it to go down like this. MS Dhoni and his men came into the tournament on a seven-match winning streak. They were back home now, just as New Zealand were in alien territory. They had not played in the subcontinent for two years, and their batting had all the symptoms of it to put up only 126 for 7.

An early wicket was vital and New Zealand looked to a McCullum for the magic touch. Nathan, who will join his little brother in retirement after this tournament, trapped Shikhar Dhawan lbw fifth ball. Minutes later, Rohit Sharma was undone by a superb delivery, this time from Santner. The batsman had trotted down the pitch but made the mistake of closing the face. Normally it wouldn't have been a fatal one, considering Santner specialises in non-turning darts. But on this pitch he was given all the help he could ask for. The ball turned square, and bounced so much that the wicketkeeper couldn't collect it cleanly. But Rohit had lunged so far outside his crease that Luke Ronchi had enough time to recover.

India might not have been nervous at this point, but New Zealand began believing.

Virat Kohli was the reason why the hosts held hope. For much of his 27 balls, he looked in control of the situation because he was in control of himself. On a track that was turning square, batsmen needed to play close to the body and trust in proper cricketing shots. He managed it for 26 balls before Ish Sodhi broke down his discipline. A beautiful legspinner was pitched up for the drive, Kohli went after it and feathered an edge to the wicketkeeper. India were 39 for 5, and definitely nervous now. Not long after, they were 79 all out and rather red-faced. "We lacked a bit of adaptability," Dhoni admitted.

New Zealand couldn't cope with the ball not coming onto the bat either. They tried to smash their way to supremacy - Martin Guptill hit the first ball of the Super 10s for a straight six and Colin Munro began with a jaw-dropping switch hit - but got through to the end of the Powerplay with 22 dots and 33 runs on the board.

Corey Anderson was their top-scorer with 34 runs, but his 42-ball innings encapsulated New Zealand's struggle. Should we hit out? Should we hunker down? They did something in between and it wasn't pretty. Only hindsight proved it was effective. And the fact that Santner, Sodhi and McCullum kept pitching the ball at the stumps and allowed a rank turner to do the rest. After all, only when a batsmen is pushed to play can he give his wicket away.

After the first innings, it looked like India should have had plenty of match-winners. R Ashwin struck in the first over of the match. Jasprit Bumrah, who excels at the death, came away with 1 for 15. Suresh Raina instigated a superb run-out to dismiss Ross Taylor for 10 and had Williamson stumped for 8. That's New Zealand's backbone sent packing by the 12th over with the score only on 61.

But as willing as Raina the bowler was, Raina the batsman could not handle the fight. He strode in during the third over, offered a tame catch to midwicket and was back in the dressing room before the over was done. Soon after, Yuvraj Singh popped a return catch to McCullum and four of the India's top five were gone for single-digits.

Meanwhile, Santner was bowling like a dream and despite him finishing as the highest-wicket taker on the night, it was Sodhi who extracted the most turn. His legspinners ripped past the outside edge regularly and his control had never looked so good. He finished with 3 for 18 - all of which were characterised by defeating the batsman in flight. Kohli was caught behind, Jadeja closed the face too early after coming forward and Ashwin was dragged out of his crease to be stumped.

New Zealand trusted in a set of bowlers capable of exploiting a raging turner. Santner, McCullum and Sodhi delivered them a win against the tournament favourites.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • forExcelienceInCricket on March 18, 2016, 7:05 GMT

    @NS1000 Cricket is a team sport & results of matches are determined by collective batting, bowling & fielding performances of team. Captain & coaches can marginally optimise team results. Player's fitness & contribution in his role should determine selection. SRT is the greatest cricketer/batsman in history. He retired at the right time. SRT would have scored additional 50 hundreds had he started his career 2/3 later. IND's losses in 0-4 ENG/AUS were due to fitness issues of key players & batting failures. MSD scored 339 test runs as WK batsman in ENG 2014 in 5 tests whereas top batter scored 134. That MSD chose to focus on ODI/T20 does not mean he should retire. IND in an easy run chase slumped to 39/5 in 8.1 overs due to poor batting by top 5 and selectively blaming a few is inappropriate. Consistency index ODI World Cup: SRT(47.7% 50+ scores per innings) 100, Richards 79.8, Ponting 54.9, Sehwag 47.6 ,Kohli 37, Rahane 12.5 is revealing. IND have to play to potential to win matches.

  • cooljack_143 on March 18, 2016, 2:24 GMT

    @NS1000, Raju, Spinking.. if MSD retires, Ind will face same challenges as SL is facing now. You dont know the value of a player till he is not playing & your team is in shambles. In this game, if not for MSD ind would have lost by 70 runs. Is not who plays the game, its all about who finishes it & who wins it for you. RESPECT your captain. Even I want to comment on those 3 openers who fail to take team to a good start instead left to the tail enders. Why should MSD jaddu ashwin bat?? they do wicket keeping,captaincy,, bowling fielding..what do the openers do ?? Are they on the team to only field?? When team looses people blame MSD, but when team wins it s a collective effort & Captain is as good as his team..wah what a hypocricy that..

  • Mac2k on March 18, 2016, 2:19 GMT

    New Zealand played really well both on field and in their minds. The team selection of having 3 spinners was spot on and so was the aggression shown by the batsmen from the word go.India, on the other hand paid the price for being too rigid with their team selection (Dhoni always believed in retaining the winning combination) without taking the pitch and other playing conditions into consideration.The defeat against New Zealand could be a blessing in disguise, if India takes it as a reality check and a wake up call for further matches in the tournament. The only way they can get back their confidence is by beating Pakistan comprehensively. All the best India...we are with you.

  • BlackCapsBestintheWorld on March 18, 2016, 1:29 GMT

    @NS1000 Theres other people in international cricket that need to retire sooner than Dhoni. Afridi is a prime example. Ashish Nehra should be in his last hurrah too. I do agree on Yuvraj though. Chris Gayle should also retire on a high.

  • ns1000 on March 18, 2016, 0:08 GMT

    I think it's high time for Dhoni, Yuvraj, Raina and some other older folks to not be like Sachin but retire with dignity. Sachin played Test cricket for much longer and averaged a mere 24 in his last 2 years of Test cricket when other youngsters could have been groomed for Test cricket and other formats. Money is the evil here. Why would Dhoni (a multi-millionaire) and others retire when the money keeps pouring in despite their woeful performances? Dhawan and Pandya are not good for this Indian T20 side if they are to do well. Jadeja needs to score runs in the next match or drop him as well - there are only so many bullet throws he can make to get run outs. Yuvi, Dhoni and Raina are past their prime. Very surprised that Nehra has done well recently but it's only a matter of time when he will cost India matches. India just doesn't have the firepower of a WI, AUS, SA, NZ and perhaps even ENG. BCCI, shame on you for picking someone who did well a decade ago - too many to name.

  • allclearblackcaps on March 17, 2016, 22:28 GMT

    Media is putting this win for NZ as if India lost to some associate nation by labeling it as a shock. Why would this be a shock? The manner in which India crumbled is probably a surprise but not a shock. Indian fans probably know better how India struggled against South Africa in test series. NZ is 2nd ranked team in ODI and 4th ranked in T20. This win is morale boosting victory for NZ and a reality check for India. It is not a shock. Pakistan is ranked 6th. so if Pakistan defeats India, will that be a shock as well??

  • Gnaneshwar Raju on March 17, 2016, 13:44 GMT

    Over confidence..complacent...Nz spin trio taken too lightly...there are many reasons for this loss. But this match has proved having settled combination not too good..maybe Indian batters especially Dhawan, Yuvi, Raina, Pandya and Jaddu lack the application and adaptability to assess and play according to conditions. Dhoni must think of Plan B and consider the conditions while selecting final 11. He is too adamant to change the squad which itself made the opposition task easy. Rahane and Bajji shd have been playing instead of Yuvi and Pandya

  • spinkingKK on March 17, 2016, 12:27 GMT

    Dhoni knew this coming. When India won against Pakistan in the Asia cup in a turning wicket, Dhoni warned that the bowling pitches are not good for T20's. He knew that his team will also struggle soon. Because, they have built the team with big hitters. Can't blame them for doing that either. However, the bowler-friendly pitches are, now, making the T20's very interesting and challenging. You can't just pack the team with Chris Gayle's, Dhawan's, Afridi's, Maxwell's and expect to win every time. May be the teams should think of adding some classy batsmen in the middle as well. Just in case if the plan A didn't work.

  • cooljack_143 on March 17, 2016, 12:19 GMT

    @Rajeshrahi.. It's not about the loss, it's about how you loose, without even trying to reach the target, which only MSD did.

  • Anil_Kumble_Clone on March 17, 2016, 11:22 GMT

    What a perfect gift to Legend Martin Crowe!! Innovation by Kane like Martin did in 1992 (leaving 3 frontline pacers for 3 spinners) fantastic reading of the pitch 2 sixes in 1st over cool composed captaincy throughout no unnecessary comments to press ... and so on... Hats off Kane. Look forward to more innovations from you.