One of the great discontents of facing a team like India nowadays is that even when you post heaps of runs, in an attempt to seize an early advantage, you end up realizing that it’s just not enough.
Perhaps that was among the big talking points from India vs NZ First T20I in 2020 as India easily overcame what was actually a substantial New Zealand total in the opening contest of the five-match series at Eden Park, Auckland.
While New Zealand put up a very big 203 on the board, that they came against a line-up featuring a Rohit, Rahul, Virat and Iyer made the feisty score hardly competitive, as seen in the end.
Not that big runs weren’t expected on a compact ground, surely not the biggest in the sport at the moment. But the relative ease with which India overcame a 204-run ask, in the end, never quite struggling in their batting was what made the opening encounter a serious one-way street for the visitors.
So what were the big 5 talking points from India vs NZ First T20I in 2020?
Shreyas Iyer Guides India Home
It’s not always that one finds another batsman in a line-up boasting of Rahul, Virat and Rohit steal the headlines.
While Rahul and Virat’s match-turning stand of 99 literally put the team on the driver’s seat, it was Shreyas Iyer who delivered a literal masterclass in the chase as the backend of the run-chase became an onerous challenge post the exits in India’s strong top order.
In playing a blinder of an inning, registering his personal best T20 score against the Kiwis, and his highest in New Zealand, Iyer held onto an end when wickets tumbled in the middle overs of India’s successful run-chase.
Not an easy sight to see Kohli depart. Never any easy to see a big hitter in Dube vanquish without compiling that many runs.
But no batsman realized his potential in the absence of pressure- right? And so as Iyer struck 5 fours and 3 sixes, he not only provided the exquisite strikes but held on to an end to anchor India’s run chase in the end.
In so doing, he also made a strong case and upped his credentials as India’s most valuable current number 4 batsman in the order, among the big talking points from India vs NZ First T20I in 2020.
NZ Bowlers Never Really Got Going
Despite posting over 200 in their inning, all that New Zealand would’ve wanted from the captain and team perspective was for the bowlers to keep the Indian scoring in check. Alas, that wasn’t to happen.
In fact, can it ever be easy to keep a tall batting order quiet that boasts of the likes of Virat, Rohit, Rahul, and as seen today, then Iyer?
Among the biggest talking points from India vs NZ First T20 in 2020 was the sheer apathy of the New Zealand bowlers, actually proving quite listless in what was a belligerent batting performance by the Indian batsmen.
Even as Rohit Sharma departed early, perhaps in the bid to up the ante of runs this being a high run-chase the severity of Rahul toward anything pitched in his strong zone- middle and legs- was met with utter disdain.
This was seen in the way someone like a Southee was sent several rows into the stands, perhaps the craftiness of Rahul in “wrist-ing” the one pitched on middle and legs way over square leg boundary signaling India’s strong intent.
Moreover, white-ball debutant Hamish Benett, who went for 9 an over and the inexperienced Blaire Tickner, who featured in just his fourth T20 was never going to be enough to curtail a free-flowing Indian line up.
Against that backdrop, it didn’t help Williamson’s cause that his go-to bowler in the form of Tim Southee- 75 wickets from 66 games- looked lackluster and didn’t quite seem in the rhythm to cause an upset.
Going for 9 an over wasn’t anyways going to help New Zealand.
But the surprising part was that useful medium-pacer De Grandhomme was never used at any instance in India’s run-chase.
If the Kiwis are to get back into the contests, then it’s utterly important that Santner (who struck early, removing Rohit) and Southee emerge as key wicket-taking exponents.
Captain Kane Williamson Leads From The Front
Few cricketing sites are as attractive as they are soothing than seeing captain Kane Williamson on song. And even as he entered the field at the back of Guptill’s dismissal, it didn’t take long for Williamson to announce his intentions.
He wasn’t going to bat on the backfoot and was clearly in touch as he powered useful hits against Shardul Thakur using the pace of the ball to find the gap over the mid-wicket boundary.
Within a quick flash, Williamson, even before facing 15 or 20 odd deliveries had powered 3 sixes, never muscling but timing the ball to deposit it over the stands.
His key stand with Munro that yielded 36 runs and later, with Taylor that resulted in a 61-run stand made New Zealand flank its exuberance around what was largely an insipid bowling attack of the Indian bowlers.
But that said, even as Williamson craftily compiled a useful 26-ball-51, it wasn’t quite enough for his team. But can Williamson continue to pile up the runs, hoping for a turnaround?
Is Munro Back In Form?
Munro reached his valuable fifty off just 36 balls. This was a particularly entertaining knock where the big left-hander struck lots of runs off the front foot.
He was the first to break the shackles and seize the early advantage batting alongside a familiar batting partner in Martin Guptill.
In the current context of the series, it was vital for this pair to score freely and so at 80, the opening stand was surely a productive one for the Kiwis.
But the key question, however, is whether the usually big-striking leftie can continue to seize early momentum by putting bat to ball to good effect for his side in the games that follow?
K.L Rahul Continues Sublime Touch in India vs NZ First T20I
Rahul was clearly the go-to man in Shikhar Dhawan’s absence during India’s celebrated home season.
That he made lots of runs against the fighting West Indies and recently, against a Smith, Starc, Hazlewood, and Zampa-powered Australia was an indication of the rich vein of form the Karnatka marksman has been in.
But to think that his rich form was just a flash in the pan and largely restricted to India’s batting-friendly surfaces was just the kind of a misnomer that you’d think the Kiwi bowlers would’ve thought about.
Someone who makes batting look like an art, instead of a brutal exhibition of power-hitting, Rahul who can both accumulate and plunder runs, did a bit of both in his fantastic 27-ball-56, just the kind of inning that India would’ve wanted from at least one of its openers in the high-scoring chase.
Clearly, KL Rahul’s fireball fifty, his tenth in the format, was among the big talking points from India vs NZ First T20I in 2020.
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