New Delhi: Skipper Virat Kohli best summed up India’s second massive defeat in two matches in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup — “I don’t think we were brave enough with bat or ball”.
Opponents New Zealand, as they often do, looked sharp right from the first ball, and ended up first restricting India’s famed batting line-up to 110 for 7, and then knocking off the paltry in just 14.3 overs with eight wickets to spare.
The result, combined with the 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan in their tournament opener, means that India, one of the pre-tournament favourites, are hanging on to a very slim mathematical hope of progressing to the semi-finals. And once again, it was the batting that let the team down, as only Ravindra Jadeja (26) and Hardik Pandya (23) managed to cross 20.
ThePrint identifies the three turning points of the game.
Losing the toss, again
Pakistan and England — the top two teams in the T20 World Cup so far — have batted second in all their games so far. And it’s not a coincidence. Of the 15 matches played in the Super 12 stage so far, teams taking first strike have won just three times. Only twice have teams batting first gone past the 160-run mark, including Bangladesh’s 171 in a losing effort against Sri Lanka.
The evening dew in the UAE has made its presence felt, and India captain Kohli said before the toss that winning it would continue to be a big factor in this tournament.
But New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and decided to field, increasing the pressure on India to put big runs on the board.
New opening combo didn’t pay off
India brought in left-handed dasher Ishan Kishan in place of middle-order bat Suryakumar Yadav, and made him open the innings alongside K.L. Rahul, in place of his Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, one of the best openers across formats.
But in the third over, New Zealand’s left-arm pacer Trent Boult sent Kishan back for just 4. Rahul also followed his opening partner in the sixth over, caught in the deep off Tim Southee while trying to force the pace. India could not recover from a score of 35/2 in the powerplay, with even Rohit, who was dropped off the first ball he faced, holing out in the deep.
Kohli, in at No.4, was soon back in the pavilion for 9 off 17 balls, and the procession continued as the Kiwi spinners Mitchell Santner (0 for 15 in 4 overs) and Man of the Match Ish Sodhi (2 for 17 in 4 overs) tightening the screws. India did not hit a boundary between overs 7 and 15. Only a couple of hits from Jadeja in the final overs took India beyond the 100-run mark.
“Every time we felt like we want to take a chance, we lost a wicket. That happens in T20 cricket, but that’s most probably or most often the result of that little bit of hesitation with the bat, when you feel like should you go for the shot or not,” Kohli said after the match.
Easy chase for Kiwis despite Bumrah
New Zealand had defeated India in the World Test Championship final earlier this year, and despite the change in format, it was expected to be an even contest. Both teams have won eight of the 16 T20 international they’ve played.
But after their bowlers’ stellar effort, the batters romped home without much trouble. India did take their first wicket of the tournament when Jasprit Bumrah dismissed Martin Guptill in the fourth over, but an aggressive Daryl Mitchell and the cool captain Williamson did not take their eyes off the target, registering their first victory of the T20 World Cup after losing their opener to Pakistan.
Bumrah was the lone bright spot for the Indian bowling, as he returned to dismiss Mitchell just short of a half-century in the 13th over, but with just 15 more to get, New Zealand were never in trouble.
Brief scores: India 110/7 (Ravindra Jadeja 26, Hardik Pandya 23, Trent Boult 3-20), New Zealand 111/2 (Daryl Mitchell 49, Kane Williamson 33, Jasprit Bumrah 2-19)
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)