Suryakumar Yadav has hammered 62 off 40 balls to help India beat New Zealand by five wickets in their first T20 international, giving a winning start to the newly appointed captain-coach duo of Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid.
T20 World Cup finalists New Zealand scored 6-164 after being inserted by the hosts on Wednesday, with India finishing on 5-166 to win with just a couple of balls to spare.
It was another disappointment for the Black Caps following their defeat by Australia in Sunday’s final in Dubai.
New Zealand captain Tim Southee, who’s taken the reins from Kane Williamson on this tour, tried to take positives from the loss, saying: “You want to come out on the right side of close ones… but it’s a game of fine margins.
“The way we started with the ball wasn’t what we wanted, we did well to claw it back in the middle, took it deep and to the last over was a positive.”
KL Rahul (15) and Sharma got India’s chase off to a great start by putting on 50 in 31 balls.
After Rahul’s wicket, Yadav carried on the scoring pace as he added 59 with Sharma for the second wicket.
Yadav notched his highest T20 score for India, including six fours and three sixes, while Sharma also hit five fours and two sixes, finishing with 48 off 36.
Trent Boult (2-31) struck a double blow to remove the set pair, with Yadav’s dismissal in the 17th over putting India under pressure.
Shreyas Iyer (5) and debutant Venkatesh Iyer (4) fell in the space of three balls, leaving India still needing eight off the last over.
Rishabh Pant sealed the chase off the fourth ball, having scored a run-a-ball 17 with two fours.
“It didn’t come as easy… so great learning for the guys, to understand what needs to be done, not about power-hitting all the time,” said Rohit, after India’s first match since their Super 12 stage exit.
“A good game for us, missing a few players, opportunity to other guys to show their ability.”
Earlier, Martin Guptill and Mark Chapman had scored half-centuries to power New Zealand’s innings.
Guptill scored 70 off 42 balls, including three fours and four sixes, while Chapman smashed his highest T20I innings with 63 off 50 balls, featuring six fours and two sixes.
They put on 109 for the second wicket off just 65 balls after Daryl Mitchell was bowled for nought but they couldn’t build on it and managed only 54 more off the last six overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-24) was the pick of Indian bowlers, while Ravichandran Ashwin also took 2-23 in four overs.
The three-match series marks a new era in Indian cricket after the bitter disappointment of the side’s poor performance at the T20 World Cup in the Middle East.
Dravid has taken over as coach from Ravi Shastri, while Sharma leads on the field as captain.
Virat Kohli, who has been rested for the series, announced before the World Cup that he was standing down as India’s T20 captain at the end of the tournament.