FEBRUARY 6, 2019
Brief Scorecard: New Zealand 219 for 6 (Seifert 84, Hardik 2-51) beat India 139 (Dhoni 39, Southee 3-17) by 80 runs
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – A New Zealand wicketkeeper-opening batsman surging down the track to belt the ball down the ground or pulling off outrageous scoops. Sounds familiar? Tim Seifert channeled his inner Brendon McCullum and turbo-charged New Zealand to 219 for 6 and a 1-0 lead, with his 43-ball 84. Having been dropped twice – on 17 by MS Dhoni behind the stumps and then on 17 by Dinesh Karthik in the outfield – he married muscle with trick shots to expose an India attack that was without its gun bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav.
Colin Munro, who had looked out of place in the ODIs, was back to his happy place, flaying 34 off 20 balls in a rollicking 86-run opening stand with Seifert.
A new-look batting line-up that had three wicketkeepers in the middle order and allrounder Vijay Shankar at No.3 then struggled to come to grips with a rapidly rising asking rate. When legspinner Ish Sodhi had both Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya holing out to excellent catches in the outfield, India were 77 for 6 in 11 overs. Although Dhoni and Krunal Pandya produced some late blows, they careened to an 80-run loss – their biggest in T20Is.
Seifert tees off
A 43-ball 84 on a New Zealand pitch might suggest wild slogging. But, it was far from that, with the odd ball and the cutters holding up on a tired pitch. Seifert’s first ball stopped on him, but he adjusted to check-punch it away towards mid-off. Left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed then drew a leading edge with an offcutter. Krunal then cramped him with a fizzing arm ball and drew a thick outside edge, but Dhoni dropped a tough chance. Yes, you guessed it. The next ball was launched for six.
From thereon, Seifert went on a boundary-hitting spree. The key to his unfettered assault was a still head and ultra-fast hands. Krunal was switch-hit over backward point while his brother Hardik was cracked through extra-cover. After bringing up his maiden T20 half-century off 30 balls, he cut loose further, hitting Krunal for back-to-back sixes. In the same over, the 11th of the innings, Karthik shelled a regulation catch at long-on to reprieve Seifert.
However, Karthik more than redeemed himself when he plucked out a sensational hokey-pokey catch at the same region to get rid of debutant Daryl Mitchell, the son of former All Black John Mitchell, who later coached the rugby side.
Curiously, India held back Yuzvendra Chahal until the ninth over and Seifert faced only six balls, taking 18 runs off him.
Munro played his part, pumping Khaleel Ahmed over mid-off and scything him over backward point for a flat six, as New Zealand had zoomed to 66 for 0 in six overs. It was Krunal who provided India with the breakthrough when he dared to loop one up, having Munro slice a catch to long-on in the ninth over. Khaleel then yorked Seifert four overs later to offer the visitors some respite.
Kuggeleijn’s late burst
Kane Williamson flickered briefly for 34 off 22 balls, but he fell to Chahal immediately after Karthik’s brilliance had sent back Mitchell. Two new batsmen were out in the middle, again, when Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor were dismissed in a space of three legal balls, but No.8 Scott Kuggeleijn smote a 7-ball 20, including a sparkling six over extra-cover off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, to hoist his side past 215.
Bhuvneshwar came away with 1 for 47 in his four overs while Hardik had a more forgettable outing, ending with 2 for 51 – his worst figures in T20Is.
Southee, spinners humble India
Tim Southee has been bowling straight lines in ODIs of late, but he rediscovered swing at the Westpac Stadium. After testing Shikhar Dhawan with inswingers, he bounced Rohit Sharma out for 1 in the third over of the chase. Dhawan, though, tucked into the extra pace of Lockie Ferguson and Kuggeleijn, cracking 28 runs off 11 balls from them. Ferguson then hit back by storming through Dhawan’s defences with a 151kph yorker.
Shankar played some exquisite lofted drives during his 18-ball 27, but at the other end Rishabh Pant laboured to 4 off 13 balls. Santner accounted for both Shankar and Pant before Sodhi engineered a double-strike of his own and triggered a full-blown collapse. Dhoni struck 39 off 31 balls, but Southee returned to dismiss him and complete New Zealand’s demolition job on Waitangi Day.