RANCHI : After a 21-run defeat in the T20I series opener at JSCA International Stadium on Friday, India captain Hardik Pandya admitted that they ended up giving 25 runs more than the par score at the venue, which had a spin-friendly pitch.
Before the start of New Zealand's final over of the innings, they were at 149/6 and in danger of not getting a score above 160. But Daryl Mitchell had other ideas, hitting three sixes and a four off a wayward Arshdeep Singh, including off a no-ball, to collect 27 runs in the final over.
Though there was a 68-run stand off 51 balls for the fourth wicket between Hardik and Suryakumar Yadav, followed by Washington Sundar notching up his maiden T20I fifty after taking 2/22 with the ball, it couldn't make up for the top-three batters falling in power-play and eventually, India ended up 21 runs short, giving New Zealand 1-0 lead in three-match series.
"No one thought this wicket would play like that, both teams were surprised but New Zealand played better cricket. 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," said Hardik at the post-match presentation.
"In hindsight, we ended up giving 25 runs more than the par. The way Washington bowled, batted and fielded, it was more like Washington against New Zealand than India against New Zealand. If he and Axar can continue the way they are, it will help Indian cricket a lot," he added.
Meanwhile, New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner admitted to being surprised over the amount of spin he and his spinners got in the second innings. The left-arm spin all-rounder was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, bowling a maiden to Suryakumar in the final over of power-play and finished with figures of 2/11 from his four overs.
"I think it was a bit of a shock, how much it spun in the second innings. After lots of runs in the ODI series, it was nice to see the ball turn. I don't think we were ever safe (even after posting 176). Daryl Mitchell batted really well. At the toss, we were thinking to bowl because it was dewy from the start but it never really got worse. The newer and harder ball was spinning a lot in the powerplay," said Santner.
Mitchell, who took the Player of the Match award, was unbeaten on 59 off 30 balls, hitting three fours and fives sixes, including the takedown of Arshdeep in the final over of the innings.
"It was nice to contribute to the score and then I think the boys bowled really well. I think Devon batted well and allowed us to build on. For me, it's about trusting my skills and following the process. Not every time it comes off in T20 cricket but it feels nice whenever it does," he said.
Off-spin all-rounder Michael Bracewell, who bagged figures of 2/31 in his four overs, was pleased with New Zealand getting their first win of the tour after losing ODI series 3-0.
"It got a little bit moist towards the end but otherwise there wasn't too much dew. Disappointing one-day series, so it's good to bounce back. It's a short three-match series, good to go into the next game with a little bit of momentum," said Bracewell.
The onus will now be on India to square the series against New Zealand when the second T20I takes place in Lucknow on Sunday.