T20I Cricket: Rohit’s India Hiccup Their Way To Beat Southee’s New Zealand, Lead 1-0!

India, under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma and in the new coach Rahul Dravid’s first match, India have defeated New Zealand in the first T20 International match in Jaipur on 17th of November 2021 by 5 wickets with just two balls to spare, and taken 1-0 lead in the 3-match T20I series. India without ex-captain Virat Kohli and several key players being rested, and similarly, New Zealand without their regular captain Kane Williamson opting out have fought out the match almost as equals despite India having the advantage of winning the toss. The progresses of the two team’s respective innings also have some similarities that we will mention as we go on, though briefly.


Put into bat New Zealand started badly losing Daryl Mitchell in the very first over for a duck to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who seemed to have found his form as India’s strike bowler. However, from that point a healthy partnership between Guptill and M Chapman grew and at 110/1 in the 14th over New Zealand seemed to be aiming at a 190+ total. At that point R Ashwin who was notoriously not included in the Indian squad in the vital first two matches of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup-2021, struck two vital blows removing both of Chapman (63) and G Phillips for a duck reducing the visitors to 110/3. Guptill (70) fell to rookie pacer Deepak Chahar in the 18th over as the Kiwis lost the momentum and could set up only a fighting target of 164 for India to win in 20 overs.


In the Indian chase, the hosts, in a similar way of the visitors, lost KL Rahul (15) relatively early (of course, after a 50-run opening partnership) and then a good 3rd wicket partnership grew between Rohit (48) and Suryakumar Yadav (63) who was also dropped in the crucial World Cup match against the Kiwis, and at 109/1 in the 14th over India seemed to be cruising to an easy victory. But then, Trent Boult struck two vital blows removing both of them as the hosts started struggling to get the runs flowing. Rishabh Pant kept his end safe with fits and starts even as Shreyas Iyer (5) and the IPL-found Venkatesh Iyer (4) fell cheaply with India finally needing 5 runs from 4 balls thanks to a wide by Mitchell and with Axar Patel for company Pant (17) finally hit the winning boundary to see India home in a prestige match for both new captain Rohit and new coach Dravid, also in view of India’s humiliating loss to the Kiwis at the Group-B league of the T20 World Cup. Rohit was in full flow continuing from the World Cup, but his not crossing the half-century mark created all the hiccups for India’s win. This is an area of concern for India with their batsmen yet to find a clue to tackle the NZ pacers, even in the much friendlier home turfs.


New Zealand, the runners-up of the World Cup and without Kane Williamson plus a pacer for this T20I series, is still a very tough team and the re-grouping India is not going to find it easy to overcome them in the remaining two matches in Ranchi on 19th and in Kolkata on the 21st of November. This is good news for Indian cricket lovers to watch some competitive matches live in the stadiums after being deprived of the same for nearly one and half years as Cricket New Normal took over. Both Kohli and Williamson are likely to join their teams for the 2-match Test Series to follow.


In the meantime the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup-2022 has been announced with Australia as the host and Melbourne to stage the Final on 13th of November 2022 and apart from Sydney four more cities including Brisbane and Perth have been added as the 6 venues. The back-to-back World Cup tournament in the shortest format is set to start from 17th of October 2022. Eight teams including India have already qualified for the Super-12 stage and the rest 4 teams will have to be selected from the qualifying round. Unfortunately, there is no indication of making any changes in the format and the number of games to be played. The toss remains too. Changing ‘batsman’ to ‘batter’ is only of etymological interest. 


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