Rohit, Dhawan show at Kotla

Rohit, Dhawan show at Kotla

Rohit, Dhawan show at Kotla

India finally ended their all-defeat record against New Zealand in the shortest format of the game to carve out a comprehensive 53 runs victory in the first T20I at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Wednesday.

It was a fitting farewell to India’s long serving left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra, who played his last match at his home ground. The 38-year-old, though, went wicketless. He finished with the figures of 4-0-29-0 amid the incessant chant of his name. As he bowled the last over of New Zealand innings, an odd fan even broke the security ring to touch his feet!

New Zealand, who had chosen to bowl first owing to the dew, were stopped at 149/8 in India’s pursuit of 202/3. Minutes later, Nehra, surrounded by his team-mates, took a lap of the stadium, waving at the crowd. He was later carried on shoulders by captain Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan.

Before that, India had dominated the match from start to finish. The foundation of their innings was laid by Rohit Sharma (80) and Dhawan (80) who enjoyed reprieves during their 158-run opening partnership. It was also India’s highest opening stand in T20 as New Zealand’s fielding fell woefully short of their high standards.

New Zealand’s batting too fell apart. They lost wickets in clumps with their top three back in the dugout by the 10th over. Martin Guptill was sent back courtesy a blinder by Hardik Pandya in the second over. Two overs later, Bhuvneshwar Kumar yorked Colin Munro and in the 10th, Kane Williamson was caught behind. In between, Nehra was left cursing his luck when Pandya dropped Munro at cover and Williamson was put down by Kohli in a tough chance.

India though remained in control. Barring Tom Latham, none of the Black Caps showed intent and once he was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal in the 16th over, the hopes had snuffed out for the visitors. India had enough inspiration to snap their string of five defeats against New Zealand. The set up was perfect for Nehra’s last hurrah.

The Delhi Gate end, opposite to the media box had a hoarding flashing “Ashish Nehra Stand”. Ahead of the contest, the Indian team got itself in a huddle and Nehra was presented a memento by Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The VIP box was packed with Nehra’s friends, family and coaches from Sonnet Club as they watched Dhawan and Rohit clinically break down the New Zealand attack-comprising two seamers in Trent Bout and Tim Southee and two spinners - Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner.

If Dhawan, who raced to his 50 in 37 balls, led the charge in the first 10 overs at his home ground, Rohit took control from the 15th over. The Mumbaikar reached his half-century with a straight six off Santner in 15th over and followed it with two successive boundaries to long on and long off.

It was only in the 16th over that leggie Sodhi provided New Zealand something to cheer about.

Within two balls he removed Dhawan, undone by a googly, and Pandya was caught behind. Rohit was dismissed in the 19th over, but Kohli, dropped at 9, and Dhoni, with a six each, ended India’s innings with a flourish.

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