The World T20 began with a massive boilover as New Zealand’s spinners routed hosts and tournament favourites India for 79, clinching an incredible 47-run win in Nagpur.
India restricted the Black Caps to just 7/126 thanks to a fine bowling performance of their own. The Kiwis’ firepower-laden top-three of Martin Guptill (6), Kane Williamson (8) and Colin Munro (7) all failed, before Corey Anderson (34 from 42), Mitchell Santner (18 from 17) and Luke Ronchi (21 not out from 11) rescued them from outright disaster.
Jasprit Bumrah (1/15 from 4 overs) and Suresh Raina (1/16 from 4 overs) frustrated the Black Caps batsmen, and a comfortable victory to delight the partisan crowd seemed a formality.
But Williamson’s bold call to open with two spinner reaped sensational dividends. Nathan McCullum removed Shikhar Dhawan in the first over, before Santner knocked over dangermen Rohit Sharma and Raina in the third.
McCullum claimed Yuvraj Singh caught-and-bowled, and when Ish Sodhi got in on the act with the prized scalp of Virat Kohli, caught behind, India were on the ropes at 5/39 in the ninth over.
Captain MS Dhoni top-scored with 30 and put on a 30-run partnership with Ravi Ashwin to give the hosts a brief sniff, but they fell to Santner and Sodhi respectively in the space of eight balls to wipe out their chances of a miracle fight-back.
Pace-man Adam Milne finished off the innings by bowling Bumrah with 11 balls remaining, but it was the spin trio of McCullum (2/15 from 3 overs), Sodhi (3/18 from 4 overs) and man-of-the-match Santner (4/11 off 4 overs) who were the toast of world cricket.
— ICC (@ICC) March 15, 2016
Kohli (23), Dhoni and Ashwin (10) were the only Indian batsmen to make more than 5 in an extraordinary capitulation – effectively beaten at their own game in their own backyard.
India have a few days to regroup before taking on archrivals Pakistan – who begin their campaign against Bangladesh tonight – in Kolkata on Saturday, a grudge match which now shapes as must-win for Dhoni’s side.
New Zealand, meanwhile, face heavyweights Australia – who the Black Caps defeated in a home ODI series last month – in Dharamsala on Friday, which doubles as Steve Smith’s side’s first outing at the tournament.
Australia defeated South Africa 2-1 in a T20I series in the Republic in early-March, before falling to West Indies by three wickets in a warm-up match cliff-hanger on Sunday.