India thrashed by Kiwis in opening T20 match
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India thrashed by Kiwis in opening T20 match

Brendon McCullum smashed an unbeaten half-century to steer New Zealand to a seven-wicket win over India in their first Twenty20 international in Christchurch today, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Mar 01, 2009 18:19 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times

Half an hour after big Jacob Oram clattered the 24th six of the day to take New Zealand to a seven-wicket win in the first match of this series, a monstrous piece of machinery removed the drop-in pitch. It's not something you see at too many places in the world, but it's the least of the things India need to adapt to.

While all talk centred around the pitches, the cold and the wind factor, it was a back-to-the-basics lesson in innings construction for the Indians. They made 162, even that inflated by Suresh Raina's rebuilding half-century and a tail-end stand with Harbhajan Singh. The Indians, perhaps unsure of just what kind of total would be sufficient at the AMI Stadium, batted as though they were looking to break the record for the highest ever score in a T20 innings - the 260 Sri Lanka managed against Kenya.

On seeing the boundaries - especially the one at backward square-leg or extra-cover, depending on which end the bowling was from - the batting collectively lost the calm and measured approach that has been its cornerstone in recent successes. It was a combination of wanting too desperately to exploit this short boundary and worrying that New Zealand's batsmen might make short work of the chase that prompted India's batsmen to try just a bit too hard.

On being put in Virender Sehwag hit the first three balls he faced on this tour for sixes - over backward square-leg, midwicket and again at the short boundary behind square. After Sehwag had joined Gautam Gambhir back in the pavilion with only 32 on the board, Rohit Sharma lazily flicked a six over the on side and perished top-edging trying to replicate the stroke off the next ball.

Yuvraj Singh got the beginning of a fine Daniel Vettori spell (4-0-18-1) and was trapped in front before he could get a look in. Mahendra Singh Dhoni got one that kept low and even at 61 for 5 Yusuf Pathan thought nothing of trying to hit everything out of the ground. He managed three big ones in a Sehwag-esque eight ball 20 but chanced his arm one time too many. Oram, fielding on the ropes at long-off, had the presence of mind to catch hold of the ball, fling it up in the air as he trod on the rope step back in to complete the catch. Had Raina (61*) not showed some restraint, India might have been embarrassed.

Chasing 163 was only going to be a problem if New Zealand repeated India's mistakes and they did not, having the luxury of knowing just how many runs were needed.

Brendon McCullum (56*) was involved in stands of 54, 50 and 60 as the sixes tally for the game swelled to 24, shattering the 20 mark Australia and India set at the last World Cup. New Zealand got to the target in the 19th over, but in reality they had gotten home much earlier.

First Published: Feb 25, 2009 11:03 IST