New Zealand have spun their way to a 47-run win over India, toppling the World Twenty20 hosts with a superb Mitchell Santner-led performance in the field in Nagpur.
Extracting prodigious turn at times, the Black Caps’ trio of spinners took nine wickets between them as the tournament favourites succumbed for 79 in the 19th over in response to New Zealand’s 7-126.
The result blows Australia’s group wide open, with only two teams to progress out of India, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh — and two losses likely to be enough to result in an early exit.
Man-of-the-match Santner claimed 4-11 from his four overs of left-arm spin, including the scalp of Indian captain MS Dhoni for 30 near the end, effectively snuffing out any hopes of a rearguard action.
Legspinner Ish Sodhi took 3-18 off four overs and Nathan McCullum 2-15 off three as India’s powerful batting lineup melted against the slow bowling they are traditionally so adept at playing. It was their second-lowest score in T20s.
New Zealand’s sole specialist seam bowler, Adam Milne, was only needed for 2.1 overs at the VCA Stadium dustbowl and took the final wicket.
India had earlier collapsed to 7-43 in 11 overs, with dangerman Virat Kohli caught behind off Sodhi’s first ball for 23 in a key breakthrough. Four other specialist batsmen departed for five or less.
The result maintained New Zealand’s unbeaten record against India in T20 internationals. Without the services of retired T20 great Brendon McCullum, New Zealand batted patiently in difficult conditions after his replacement as captain, Kane Williamson, won the toss.
An uncharacteristically watchful 34 from allrounder Corey Anderson came before wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi blasted a valuable 21 off 11 balls.
The result was a triumph for Williamson, who took a punt in leaving out proven seamers Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan.
“It was a tough surface and, whatever score we got, we knew it was going to be tough to chase,” Williamson said.
“In saying that we would have liked a few more. But the way the boys bowled was simply outstanding.
“It’s nice to get a win to start off the competition against such a strong side like India.”
Dhoni blamed a reckless batting performance for the loss.
“It was not like the deliveries got a lot of batsmen out, it was the shot selection that really kept putting the pressure on the batsmen coming in,” he said.
“They bowled well and exploited the conditions, but at the same time I felt we lacked a bit of adaptability. Some of the dismissals were quite soft.”
New Zealand next face Australia in Dharamsala on Friday.