Gritty India eke out last-over win to go 1-0 up against NZ
A spectacular last-over humdinger saw India eke out a 5-wicket win over New Zealand in the first T20I of the three-match series in Jaipur on Wednesday.
Chasing 165 runs for the win, India looked to be in the driver's seat throughout their batting, barring the last four overs. New Zealand's late comeback into the game, courtesy of some tight bowling from Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult in the death overs, almost had India's back to the wall.
India required 10 runs off the last over to win the match, with our debutant Knight Venkatesh Iyer facing his first ball in international cricket. The youngster took some pressure off with a glorious pull shot to open his account but fell in the next delivery while trying to execute a reverse scoop. Rishabh Pant (17* off 17), however, stood his ground and finished off the proceedings with a boundary in the third last ball.
India started their chase with some explosive batting from skipper Rohit Sharma (48 off 36) and KL Rahul (15 off 14) as the duo put on 50 runs on the board in just 5 overs. However, Rahul fell to Mitchell Santner in the very first ball of the 6th over. Suryakumar Yadav (62 off 40) started off slow but once he got into the groove, there were balls flying all over the park.
India seemed to be in cruise control till the time Yadav stayed at the crease. But once he got out, the momentum started swinging in new Zealand's favour.
Earlier, being put in to bat first, the Kiwis rode on Martin Guptill's 70 off 42 and Mark Chapman's 63 off 50 to post 164/6. Even though they received an early blow when Bhuvaneshwar Kumar cleaned up Daryl Mitchell for a golden duck in the very first over, Guptill and Chapman steadied the ship and accelerated New Zealand's scoring rate with some fine batting.
The Kiwis were going really strong till the 14th over but the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin came into play when he dismissed the well-set Chapman and then Glenn Phillips in the same over.
By the time Deepak Chahar sent Guptill back, NZ were easily looking at a 175-plus score. But Chahar's economical bowling was backed up by some death over classics from Bhuvaneshwar and Md Siraj, which included two more wickets, as India gave away just 14 runs in the last 16 balls to retrict NZ for 164.