Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul put on a show of class as India thrash New Zealand by 6 wickets in 1st T20I at Auckland
Rohit Sharma departed early and Virat Kohli was back in the hut with close to 90 runs needed at 10 runs per over. It is a situation Team India dreads to find itself in, in a chase. After all, haven’t we seen the team capitulate while chasing in big ICC tournaments. But it is also a situation that Kohli and the team management would want to see itself in as the team prepares for the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.
Shreyas Iyer has solved India’s number 4 problem and is expected to get a long rope in that position. But long ropes are often cut in the middle if performances don’t match expectations. On Thursday, Iyer knew what his job was. The highlight of his still nascent international career has been his ability to keep a cool head in pressure situations and yet again he did just that.
He played second fiddle as Shivam Dube showcased his power hitting abilities for an over. But once Dube holed out in his attempt to push the issue, Iyer knew he had to play the senior partner’s role along with the seasoned Manish Pandey.
With 53 needed to win off 30 balls, Ish Sodhi was the first target. Iyer slapped the third delivery of the over through point for a much needed boundary. Two balls later Manish Pandey hit one in the crowd and the target came plummeting down.
The experienced Tim Southee bowled the next over which was a crucial one in the chase. Iyer launched one over long off to get a six and that settled it for the over. Hamish Bennett decided to come around the wicket in the next over and Iyer knew what to do with that angle. Back to back boundaries followed and India were coasting home.
Iyer turned on the class in the penultimate over, hitting Southee for two sixes and a boundary as India recorded one of their most comprehensive T20 victories over New Zealand away from home. Iyer stayed unbeaten on 58 off 29 deliveries.
Earlier, KL Rahul showcased once again why he is such an important player in this Indian side. Opening the innings, Rahul played shots all round the ground to put on a 99-run second-wicket stand with captain Virat Kohli.
Rahul hit three sixes and four boundaries to score 56 off just 27 deliveries to give the tourists the start they needed while chasing an imposing target of 204 runs. Kohli chipped in with a 32-ball 45 and kept the scoreboard ticking constantly.
New Zealand had put on 203 runs on the board after being put in to bat by Kohli. Colin Munro produced a quality knock at the top of the order, top scoring with 59 runs off 42 balls. Captain Kane Williamson oozed class in his 26-ball stay at the crease, hitting 4 boundaries and sixes alike to contribute 54 runs to the total. Ross Taylor stayed unbeaten 54 off 27 balls.
The Kiwis once looked comfortable for an even bigger total, but Yuzvendra Chahal (1/32), Jasprit Bumrah (1/31) and Shivam Dube (1/24 in 3 overs) pulled things back for Team India.