Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner give New Zealand 1-0 lead in T20Is
Spin was the way to go on the night, and the visitors got it right
New Zealand 176 for 6 (Mitchell 59*, Conway 52, Washington 2-22) beat India 155 for 9 (Washington 50, Suryakumar 47, Santner 2-11) by 21 runs
New Zealand were put in on a pitch that turned, and were then expected to bowl in the dew, but they managed to score what turned out to be enough off India's fast bowlers. Half-centuries from Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway and an early burst from Finn Allen took New Zealand to 176 after which they went to spin straightaway unlike India who didn't have the headstart of knowing it was turning.
While New Zealand got only 56 off the 10 overs bowled by the spinners, they managed 119 off the 10 overs of pace. The sharply cut grass perhaps did the trick for New Zealand as the ball didn't quite become a bar of soap and kept gripping for their spinners.
Captain Mitchell Santner displayed his guile and skill, taking a wicket first ball, bowling a maiden in the powerplay and then coming back to take Deepak Hooda in the 16th over to seal the game. The one big difference in two sides was that pacer Jacob Duffy bowled his first two overs for 10 and a wicket, and once the asking rate started creeping up, this pitch just proved too difficult for Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya.
Finn Allen blazes away
Coming off successive ducks in an ordinary ODI series, Allen enjoyed the freedom this format affords batters. He started off with a mis-hit, but then began smacking the ball around with only two fielders out. In 4.1 overs, New Zealand were 43 for 0 thanks to his 35 off 22.
Washington Sundar applies the brakes
Among those four overs was one bowled by Washington Sundar. The ball gripped for him, and he refused to give the batters anything full. Only three came off that over, and even though Allen managed to slog-sweep him for a six at the start of the next, he ended up dragging the next slog-sweep to deep midwicket, which was placed squarer than usual.
In the same over, Washington played around with Mark Chapman before taking a spectacular one-handed return-catch diving full length to his right. India quickly went to more spin, bringing on Deepak Hooda even if it meant bowling inside the powerplay. It now became 54 for 2 in seven overs.
Devon Conway carries on
Somebody needed to bat well for New Zealand during the middle overs because they were still going to need a big score because of the dew expected. Conway, who hardly got any strike during the Allen fireworks, was just the man. He got going with the reintroduction of pace, taking 16 off the eighth over, bowled by Umran Malik.
Conway's strong wrists and a whole array of sweeps helped him find placement against the spinners. Even as Glenn Phillips, and later Mitchell, struggled to go at a run a ball, Conway kept scoring the runs in the middle overs. In the end, he and Mitchell chose to play out Kuldeep Yadav and Washington to set themselves up for the death overs.
Two good overs, two ordinary ones
That description above will remain the definition no matter which side's point of view you take. Mitchell took a decent 17th over from Pandya for 16 by hitting the first and the last balls for sixes for down the ground. Arshdeep Singh and Shivam Mavi made excellent comebacks in overs 18 and 19, conceding just ten runs for the wickets of Conway, Michael Bracewell and Santner.
In the 20th, though, Arshdeep missed his yorker and even overstepped once. Mitchell took full toll: 23 runs off the first three legal balls. Arshdeep came back with three yorkers, but still New Zealand had got to a good total provided the dew didn't prove to be a big handicap. Mitchell, 17 off 16 at one stage, ended with 59 off just 30.
India lose early wickets
Bowling in the second innings, the plan was clear: get spinners on early before it becomes difficult with the dew. Bracewell bowled Ishan Kishan with a beauty with the new ball, but Duffy proved to be the bonus. He was difficult to get away, and also took out Rahul Tripathi.
When Santner brought himself on, India were 15 for 2 in three overs. India possibly recognised this wasn't quite a match they could take deep and then rein in the asking rate and finish it off. Shubman Gill didn't give himself a sighter of Santner. He saw the first ball pitch short of a length, set himself up for the pull, but was defeated by massive turn which resulted in an easy catch off the top edge.
Santner's control of his craft, aided by the gripping pitch, was on full display when he bowled a maiden inside the powerplay to Suryakumar. India, 33 for 3 after six.
Mitchell Santner swings middle-overs tussle NZ's way
An array of sweeps from Suryakumar, and Pandya's hits down the ground, kept India in the hunt. They even took 41 off the nest four overs, but they still needed 103 from the back ten. Santner once again pulled India back with a one-run over. He had conceded just five off 12 to Suryakumar.
That over meant risks needed to be taken against Ish Sodhi in the next over. One came off, but then Suryakumar just timed a chip shot too well, sending it too straight for a catch to long-on. With 89 required off the last eight, Pandya tried a big hit off Bracewell, but the ball didn't turn, took the edge, and India were left needing a miracle.
The towel started making more frequent appearances, Hooda and Washington managed to score just enough to keep India alive in the game. With 67 required off the last five, though, Santner played around with Hooda with changes of pace and trajectory before getting him stumped.
Washington was defiant in his 50 off 28, but he had too little support left and too much to do.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo