India skipper Hardik Pandya said they were left “surprised” by the grip and turn the pitch offered but admitted the team paid the price for allowing New Zealand to walk away with too many runs. India suffered a 21-run loss in the opening T20I after New Zealand posted a challenging 176 for six with the last-over thrashing of Arshdeep Singh for 27 runs proving to be the game-changer.
Chasing the total, India batters couldn’t negotiate the spinners as they managed 155 for 9.
“No one thought this wicket would play like that, both teams got surprised but New Zealand played better cricket. The new ball was turning more than the old ball. The way it turned and bounced surprised us,” Pandya said during the post-match presentation.
Suryakumar Yadav (47) and Hardik Pandya (21) had conjured up hope of a successful chase when they had a little partnership going but all hopes were dashed after both departed in quick succession.
“Till me and Surya were batting, we thought we would pull it off. In hindsight, we ended up giving 25 runs more than the par.” Washington Sundar shone bright for India as he took two wickets for 22 runs and then returned to smash a 28-ball 50, albeit, in a losing cause.
“The way Washington bowled, batted and fielded, it was more like Washington against New Zealand than India against New Zealand. If he and Axar can continue the way they are, it will help the Indian cricket a lot.” New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner also said it was “a bit of a shock” for everyone the way ball spun in the second innings. “But it was a great game and it was pretty tight at the end, we saw a lot of runs in the ODI series and it was nice to see the ball spin a bit more,” he said.
The win was set up by Devon Conway (52) and Daryl Mitchell (59), who smashed commanding fifties.
“I don’t think we were ever safe, 170-odd was nice with Daryl hitting a couple over and he batted extremely well, we knew we had a sniff with 180.
“It was nice to chip some wickets in the powerplay and we had troubled with that in the ODIs,” added Santner, who had 18 dot balls in his 2 for 11.
“At the toss we were going to bowl because we know chasing is so good over here and especially with the dew. That’s always the challenge (on captain using himself).
“You don’t want to be seen doing the easy overs and stuff like that. We knew it was spinning in the powerplay and it was nice to chip one out.” Mitchell, who was adjudged Player of the Match, for his sensational innings, said he trusted his skills and tried to keep it simple.
“It is nice to contribute to a score which helps us win a game. I thought the way the boys bowled at the end was pretty special. It is nice to take some momentum into the rest of the T20 series,” he said.
“The guys who went in early said it was pretty difficult against spin because of the tacky nature. It was my job to build a partnership and then take the onus on myself after Conway’s departure.
“For me it is being really present and really clear, keeping it simple as possible and trusting my skills, not every time it comes off in T20 cricket but it is always nice when you get a few off the middle.” India and New Zealand will face off in second T20 on Sunday in Lucknow.