New Zealand kick-started their Twenty20 World Cup campaign with a crushing eight-wicket victory which leaves India’s semi-final hopes hanging by a thread. Trent Boult took three wickets and player of the match Ish Sodhi two as the Black Caps restricted the 2007 champions to just 110 for seven during the opening innings of the Super 12s match in Dubai. Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 26 gave India faint hope of keeping their last-four aspirations in their own hands but New Zealand made light work of the modest total, wrapping up victory with 33 balls to spare.
Daryl Mitchell fell one short of a half-century for the Kiwis, while captain Kane Williamson posted 33 not out, including the decisive run. Both sides came into the crunch contest with work to do having each suffered defeats to Group Two leaders Pakistan in their respective opening matches of the tournament. After winning the toss and opting to field, the Black Caps swiftly set about dismantling their opponents’ top order.
Ishan Kishan was dismissed by Boult for four and, although progress was momentarily halted when Adam Milne dropped a regulation catch to remove Rohit Sharma for a duck, India had posted just 48 for four when captain Virat Kohli departed for nine on the opening ball of the 11th over. India-born spinner Sodhi claimed the prized scalp of Kohli, tempting him into a slog sweep which was caught by Boult at long-on, having earlier dismissed Sharma for 14. New Zealand’s dominance dampened the atmosphere among the considerable Indian support inside the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
However, a slight blemish saw them concede 16 runs off the final eight deliveries, including a superb six from Jadeja, to add a little more interest to the chase. India pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah managed to dismiss openers Martin Guptill and Mitchell for 20 and 49 respectively but experienced skipper Williamson expertly steered his side to a comfortable win with more than five overs remaining. New Zealand returns to action against Scotland on Wednesday, while India’s salvage operation begins when they meet Afghanistan later that day. Trent Boult (3-20) dismissed Kishan for four, and nearly bounced out Rohit with the next ball too but Adam Milne floored the catch at long leg.
Rohit could not capitalize on the reprieve as he and Rahul holed out in the deep. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (2-17) dealt a body blow in the 11th over when he induced a skier from Kohli which Boult pouched at long-on to send groans across the stands populated mostly by India fans. Hardik Pandya made 23 and Ravindra Jadeja contributed 26 not out as India labored past the 100-mark after what looked like a catching practice in the deep for the New Zealand fielders. The New Zealand attack operated with exemplary discipline, conceding only two sixes as they subdued one of the most star-studded batting line-ups of the tournament.
The Group II match featured two teams who were beaten by group leaders Pakistan in their respective openers and needed a victory to put their campaigns back on track. New Zealand has been India’s bogey team in recent global tournaments having prevailed over Virat Kohli’s men in the semi-finals of the 2019 ODI World Cup and the final of the World Test Championship this year. India tweaked their top-order for the match for the same opponents, harnessing Ishan Kishan with KL Rahul in a left-right combination and dropping Rohit Sharma to number three.
Yet they slumped to 48-4 in the 11th over after another top-order meltdown at the Dubai International Stadium. New Zealand did better in their powerplay and reached halfway their target in seven overs losing only the wicket of Martin Guptill (20). Mitchell missed his fifty by a whisker but Williamson stayed put to hit the winning run. “I don’t think we were brave enough with bat or ball,” a dejected Kohli said after the loss. “We didn’t have much to defend but we weren’t brave when we walked out to the field,” he said. Pakistan lead the group with three wins in as many matches, followed by Afghanistan who has played an equal number of matches and won two.