Mumbai: India were bundled out for 139 and succumbed to an 80-run loss, their biggest in terms of runs, in the first Twenty20 International against New Zealand after Tim Seifert's 43-ball 84 helped the hosts to 219/6 in Wellington on Wednesday, 6 February.
India had begun their chase well, with Shikhar Dhawan dispatching Scott Kuggeleijn over the fence, repeatedly and with disdain, in an over. Tim Southee had bowled well to dismiss Rohit Sharma, the Indian skipper, early, but Kuggeleijn going for 34 runs in his first two overs meant India had raced to 46/1 in five overs.
But after Dhawan fell for an 18-ball 29 – Lockie Ferguson's sheer pace castled him – India never looked the same.
Vijay Shankar, coming in at No.3, showed promise by hitting Mitchell Santer for a six over mid-wicket, but the bowler had the last laugh when he snared Rishabh Pant (4) with a variation of pace, and then had Shankar caught at long-off for an 18-ball 27 in his next over.
Santner's spin-partner Ish Sodhi then joined the party with a twin-strike of his own – he dismissed Dinesh Karthik (5) and Hardik Pandya (4) in the 11th over, leaving India rattled at 77/6. MS Dhoni stuck around for a 31-ball 39, even as wickets fell at the other end, before becoming Southee's third victim. India were bowled out in 19.2 overs.
Earlier, coming into the team on back of excellent domestic T20 form, Seifert continued plowing the runs against a strong Indian attack. He started cautiously, along with Colin Munro, but the latter began the assault with consecutive boundaries off Khaleel Ahmed, the left-arm medium-pacer, in just the second over.
Seifert took the cue and hit Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a six and a four in the next over, and from there on, India were on the back foot. Luck went Seifert's way too – there was an edge off Krunal Pandya when he was on 17, but Dhoni was unable to hold on. Seifert rubbed salt into the wounds by hitting the next ball over fine-leg for a six.
A breakthrough finally came in the ninth over, when Krunal flighted a delivery to have Munro caught at long-on for a 19-ball 34. But by that point, the damage had already been done, with Seifert bringing up his half-century.
In the 11th over, after striking Krunal for back-to-back sixes, he offered another chance at long-on, only for Karthik to put him down.
The drop cost India another four and a six, before Seifert was finally dismissed for a cracking 43-ball 84, when Ahmed cleaned him up. Kane Williamson, who started slowly, took charge thereafter. The highlight of his 22-ball 34 was two glorious back-to-back sixes off Hardik.
Debutant Daryl Mitchell (8) didn't last long, falling to Hardik, and Williamson was then dismissed off a skiddy delivery from Yuzvendra Chahal.
However, Kuggeleijn provided late fireworks with an unbeaten seven-ball 20, and the total proved well beyond India's reach.