Ranchi: Opener Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell hit quick-fire fifties to set up a convincing 21-run victory for New Zealand in the first T20 international against India on Friday.
Left-hander Conway made 52 off 35 balls and Mitchell smashed an unbeaten 59 as the Kiwis posted 176-6 after being put in to bat first in Ranchi.
New Zealand, who suffered a 3-0 whitewash in the One Day Internationals, restricted the hosts to 155-9 and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Skipper Mitchell Santner stood out with figures of 2-11 with his left-arm spin while fellow spinner Michael Bracewell and fast bowler Lockie Ferguson also took two wickets each.
“I think it was a bit of a shock, how much it spun in the second innings,” said Santner. “After lots of runs in the ODI series, it was nice to see the ball turn.”
The Black Caps started strongly after being put in to bat first, with Finn Allen striking four fours and two sixes in a brisk 35.
Spinner Washington Sundar cut short Allen’s stay as the batsman mistimed a hit to deep midwicket, and struck again in the over to get Mark Chapman caught and bowled for nought.
Conway took his time before he changed gears and smashed tearaway quick Umran Malik for two fours and a six in the eighth over.
Conway kept up the charge with Glenn Phillips as the pair put on 60 before left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav broke through with the wicket of Phillips for 17.
Conway raised his fifty in 31 balls and found another attacking partner in Mitchell, who hit five sixes in his 30-ball blitz, as they added 36 for the fourth wicket.
Turned and bounced
Left-arm pace bowler Arshdeep Singh finally got Conway out in the 18th over, but was then hammered for three sixes and a four by Mitchell in a 27-run final over.
“It was nice to contribute to the score and then I think the boys bowled really well,” said man of the match Mitchell. “I think Devon batted well and allowed us to build.”
In reply, India lost their top three batsmen with just 15 on the board in 3.1 overs with off-spinner Bracewell striking first as he bowled the left-handed Ishan Kishan for four.
Starting with a flurry
Two more wickets in the next two overs put India in trouble before Suryakumar Yadav (47) and Hardik Pandya (21) put the chase back on track in a partnership of 68.
Suryakumar, a T20 sensation for his all-round hitting, started with a flurry of boundaries but the pair played with a mix of caution and aggression.
Suryakumar clubbed six fours and two sixes in his 47, before he mistimed a shot to long-on off leg-spinner Ish Sodhi. Pandya fell in the next over to Bracewell as the wheels came off the chase.
Three dropped chances
Sundar survived three dropped catches to hit 50 off 28 balls but found little support from the other end.
“No one thought this wicket would play like that, both teams got surprised but New Zealand played better cricket,” said India skipper Pandya.
“The new ball was turning more than the old ball. The way it turned and bounced surprised us but till me and Surya were batting, we thought we would pull it off.”
The second match is on Sunday in Lucknow.