Title favourites India capitulated to a shocking 47-run defeat against a spirited New Zealand in a low-scoring game as the hosts launched their ICC World Twenty20 campaign in the most ignominious manner, here tonight.
After restricting New Zealand 126 for seven, India put up a pathetic batting display to be bundled out 79 in 18.1 overs, their second lowest Twenty20 total, on a turning track at a jam-packed VCA Stadium in Jamtha.
It was a horrendous performance from India, ranked world no 1 in the Twenty20 format, as the famed batting line-up showed poor skills and application to lose their fifth successive match against the Kiwis.
With impressive figures of 4-0-11-4, young left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner turned out to be the star performer with the ball for New Zealand, recording the best bowling figures by a Kiwi tweaker in India.
The home team now proceed to Kolkata to take on arch-foes Pakistan in their second game on March 19 while New Zealand travel to Dharamsala to clash against Trans-Tasman rivals Australia a day earlier. India’s jinx in the T20 format against the Kiwis, thus, continued as the home team’s batting department came a cropper against the Kiwi spin trio of Nathan McCullum, Santner and Ish Sodhi.
Among the top five batsmen, only Virat Kohli reached double figures by making 23 off 22 balls with two fours while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made a run-a-ball 30 with one six and as many four, and Ravichandran Ashwin (10) were the only others to do so.
Dhoni prolonged India’s innings which looked a totally lost cause with the hosts staggering at 43 for seven that improved marginally to 61 for seven after the 15th over and was ninth batsmen to be dismissed, caught at long on off Santner after striking Sodhi for a huge straight six a little while earlier.
Nine of India’s 10 wickets fell to the Kiwi spin trio while last man Ashish Nehra was castled by pacer Adam Milne to complete the rout.
Santner captured a stunning 4 for 11, Sodhi grabbed 3 for 18 while McCullum, the senior-most spinner, took 2 for 15.
India commenced their modest chase on a shocking note by losing four wickets for 26 inside the powerplay and then lost their most in-form batsman Kohli at 39 in the ninth over.
The procession started when Shikhar Dhawan tried a sweep a McCullum delivery and was trapped plumb in front off the fifth ball.