India vs New Zealand 2017, 1st T20I: New Zealand's sequence of dropped catches is SK Turning Point of the match
Both Rohit and Dhawan capitalised on their reprieves to amass a match-winning partnership.
Even though India were playing at home, New Zealand entered the first T20I of the 3-match series as slight favourites due to their dominant record against the 'Men in Blue' in the shortest format of the game. Unlike their usual self, the Blackcaps were quite shoddy in the field and played their part in India cruising to a 53-run victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
The visitors dropped both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in the early stages of the match. The dynamic openers duly cashed in on their serendipity to pummel the Kiwi bowlers with a massive 158-run partnership. From then on, India never looked back and surged to their maiden victory against New Zealand in T20Is.
Mitchell Santner reprieves Shikhar Dhawan
The Blackcaps got their first opportunity as early as in the second over itself. In the penultimate delivery, Trent Boult provided Dhawan with extra width to free his arms. The left-hander was in no mood to let go and flayed hard at the ball with all his might.
Skipper Kane Williamson had strategically placed a fielder at point in order to avail a possible chance for catching. With the ball coming at him at tremendous speed, Mitchell Santner tried the reverse cup by uniting his hands over the head. However, the sheer pace of the ball as well as the spinner's slow reflexes allowed the ball to burst through. Dhawan lived to tell another tale.
Tim Southee drops Rohit Sharma
After a watchful start, Rohit got going by unveiling the upper-cut to a short delivery from Tim Southee. Even though third man was interested for a brief moment, the ball eventually sailed over the fence. Meanwhile, at the other end, Dhawan was in a punishing mood as boundaries began to flow from his blade against the erratic bowlers.
With his main bowlers not able to curb the hemorrhage of runs, Williamson introduced the gentle medium pace of Colin de Grandhomme into the equation in the first over after the end of the mandatory Power Play. The seamer almost procured a vital scalp for his team by deceiving Rohit with a slower off-cutter in the third delivery of the over.
Even as the ball gripped on the surface and took a bit of time before reaching him, the elegant right-hander was way too early into the shot. He could only mistime the ball in the direction of long-off. Running in from near the boundary rope, Southee pulled out a dive and nearly grabbed the opportunity. However, the ball popped out of his hands before he could complete the catch. New Zealand had missed two crucial chances to dent the Indian batting lineup.
Rohit-Dhawan partnership flattens New Zealand
The openers capitalised on their reprieves by putting on a record partnership for any wicket by an Indian pair in T20Is. They made the Kiwis pay for their mistakes by unleashing a barrage of sublime shots. Showing their class and ability to time the ball sweetly, the duo looked at ease against both pace and spin alike.
Their 158-run stand was the third highest for the first-wicket in the game's newest format. Overall, their effort was the sixth highest partnership in the history of T20Is. While Dhawan was undone by a googly from Ish Sodhi for a rapid 80, Rohit was also dismissed for the same score in strange circumstances.
The opening partnership set the stage for India to canter to a formidable total of 202 for the loss of just three wickets. On a surface offering considerable help for bowlers, the target proved to be way out of reach for New Zealand as the Indian bowlers wrapped up a comprehensive triumph.