The JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi turned into a heaven for spinners and Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Michael Bracewell dismantled India’s batting line-up to give New Zealand a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series on Friday (January 27).
Thanks to Finn Allen (23-ball 35), Devon Conway (35-ball 52) and Daryl Mitchell (30-ball 59*), New Zealand posted a challenging total of 176/6 in their 20 overs. Once they had runs on the board, Santner (2/11) led from the front and restricted India to 155/9. Just like most of us, Indian skipper Hardik Pandya was also surprised with how the surface behaved.
“No one even thought that the wicket would play like that and both teams were surprised. But they played better cricket on this and that's why the result end up like that. Actually, the new ball was turning more than the old one and the way it spun, way it bounced, it caught us by surprise,” said Pandya at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Santner too echoed the same sentiments. “It was a bit of a shock for everyone involved, how much it kinda spun in the second innings. But it was a great game and it was pretty tight at the end, we saw a lot of runs in the ODI series and it was nice to see the ball spin a bit more,” said the New Zealand captain.
“It was nice to chip away with some wickets in the powerplay and we had trouble doing that in the ODIs. That's always the challenge (on the captain using himself). You don't want to be seen doing the easy overs and stuff like that. We knew it was spinning in the powerplay and it was nice to chip one out.”
The Black Caps were 149/6 at the end of 19 overs but that’s when Arshdeep Singh leaked three sixes and a four and conceded 27 runs in the final over. And, Pandya feels India ended up giving 20-25 runs more. “On hindsight, I don't think this wicket was 177, we were poor with the ball and conceded 20-25 runs. It is a young group and we will only learn from this,” said Pandya.
India were outplayed but Washington Sundar had an outstanding game. The spin-bowling all-rounder first scalped 2/22 with his off-spin and then smoked 50 off 28 deliveries. “The way he bowled, batted and fielded, it was Washington against New Zealand today. We needed someone who can bat and bowl, gives us a lot of confidence and it will help us going forward,” said Pandya.
The Player of the Match was Mitchell who blasted three fours and five maximums during his stay in the middle. “It is nice to contribute to a score which helps us win a game. I thought the way the boys bowled at the end was pretty special. It is nice to take some momentum into the rest of the T20 series. The guys who went in early said it was pretty difficult against spin because of the tacky nature,” said Mitchell.
“It was my job to build a partnership and then take the onus on myself after Conway's departure. For me it is being really present and really clear, keeping it simple as possible and trusting my skills, not everytime it comes off in T20 cricket but it is always nice when you get a few off the middle.”