Stunning Indian collapse sets up tournament

Ashish Nehra is bowled, and the tournament is thrown wide open
Ashish Nehra is bowled, and the tournament is thrown wide open
©REUTERS / Action Images
 

New Zealand’s spinners took nine wickets to trigger a stunning Indian collapse as the hosts were bowled out for just 79 runs in Nagpur. The Black Caps scored 126 for seven in their allotted 20 overs, and then the hosts came apart in a shocking manner to lose by 47 runs.

The Punt

One look at the Nagpur pitch and New Zealand knew they had to bet on three spinners. Not often do you see both Trent Boult and Tim Southee missing from their playing eleven, but the team selectors chose to pursue that path. Even so, a spin-heavy attack needed a tall score to make sure that this ploy had some chance of working out.

Martin Guptill (6) started in that fashion, and then Colin Munro (7), both smacking sixes in the very first over bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin (1-32). Their idea was to go hard at the new ball, considering the soft pitch, but in doing so they also lost their wickets. As a result, the score read 33 for two at the end of the powerplay overs.

This was India’s moment and they turned the screw. Suresh Raina (1-16) in particular delighted, his run out of Ross Taylor (10) a brilliant moment of thinking as he stopped the ball and threw it back to find the batsman short. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals, and in that light, Corey Anderson’s knock of 34 runs stood out for sheer determination. The left-hander knew the importance of staying at the wicket so as to give his side an impetus in the final overs.

His dismissal in the 16th over meant that never happened, but Grant Elliott (9) and Luke Ronchi (21 not out) threw their bats around for long enough to push the score to a respectable read. No one though gave New Zealand a sniff at the point in time.

The Turn

Quite literally, New Zealand turned the game on its head as their three spinners – Nathan McCullum (2-15), Mitchell Santner (4-11) and Ish Sodhi (3-18) – used the conditions to optimal effect. Was it a matter of early wickets? Perhaps, but even then this Indian batting had enough quality about it to chase down 126 runs on home soil.

Instead it was a combination of loose shots, a bit of bad luck and some inspired bowling that didn’t allow the Indian batsmen to build any partnerships, which cost them the match in the end.

Rohit Sharma (5) and Suresh Raina (1) were outfoxed by Santner in the space of four balls, with Yuvraj Singh (4) looping back a catch off the toe of his bat. The middle order had been ripped apart and the end blow came when Virat Kohli (23) was caught behind, Ronchi taking an excellent catch behind the wicket.

From then onwards, MS Dhoni (30) searched for a partner to stay at the wicket and maybe find a ray of hope. But regular wickets meant that India were reduced to 43 for seven off 62 balls at one stage, and from there only one result was possible.

What This Means

From an Indian perspective, this is not yet complete disaster. But they surely have lost the favourites’ tag. It has also upped the stakes for their game against Pakistan in Kolkata on Saturday. It is a must-win game for sure, but at the same time, the Men in Blue cannot afford to rest easy even against Bangladesh or Australia for that matter. At the moment though, they will want to take it one game at a time, nay, one day at a time for they will need a couple days to shrug this loss off.

From New Zealand’s, and a neutral's perspective, this is an insane start to the Super 10 stage. Group Two has been hailed as the ‘group of death’, and India’s task is made tougher with this loss. In the meantime, the Black Caps have shown that they have the resources to adapt to the conditions and win. They have shown the way and thrown open the challenge to other teams.

© Cricket World 2016