A dejected Indian captain Rohit Sharma made no fuss in admitting that India were outplayed in all three departments by a well-rounded New Zealand unit as the visitors went down by 80 runs in the opening game of the three-match Twenty20 International series at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.”It was a tough game. We were outplayed in all three departments. We didn’t start well and we knew that 200 wasn’t going to be an easy chase although the grounds are small here. But we kept losing wickets and that threw us off,” Rohit said after the game.
Electing to field first India were blown away by a Tim Seifert assault to concede 219/6 in their 20 overs. Chasing a target of that magnitude was always going to be tough and unfortunately for the visitors, none of the batsmen could really get going and they were eventually bowled out for just 139 in 19.2 overs.
However, Rohit insisted that with eight batsmen in the side he would not shy away from chasing a target if given a chance again.
“We have chased such targets in the past and that is why we played with eight batsmen, but we didn’t have small partnerships and that made it tough while chasing such a big target. But New Zealand played well, they had partnerships that allowed them to get such a big score,” he said.
“As a team, we have been good at chasing down targets which is why we play with eight batsmen. We believe that whatever the target is in front of us we can chase it down, but we just couldn’t do it tonight.”
A delighted New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, on the other hand, was chuffed to bits after a complete performance from his side.
“A fantastic performance all-around. I think everyone in their roles contributed and that is what you are after. It was one of those complete performances that you do search for,” said Williamson after the win.
The architects of the victory were the batsmen led by Seifert, who playing just his eighth T20I slammed 84 in just 43 balls which included seven fours and six sixes. His quickfire opening stand of 86 with Colin Munro (34 in 20) laid a solid foundation which the rest of the top order in Williamson and Ross Taylor capitalised brilliantly.
While Williamson was effusive in praise of his side, he insisted with a quick turnaround time there was no room for complacency.
“I think there were some really good things in this game. The top of the order was outstanding in terms of Seifert, Munro at the start. Seifert played a special knock and we were able to build partnerships which gave us that very good total,” said Williamson.
“The bowling performance as well was outstanding. We did have runs on the board, but the bowling and fielding were of high standard. Some really good things, a complete performance which does not happen everyday.
“But, it is sort of finished now, we move on in a day’s time and we have another game. We know it will be different in a couple of day’s time so we have to learn from the few bits and pieces and go out and play with that freedom again.”
Williamson also had a few special words of praise for debutant Daryl Mitchell, who gave a good account of himself first with the bat and then returned impressive figures of 1/13 in 2.2 overs with the ball.
“Some very good experiences, Daryl making his debut which is really exciting and to bowl the way he did and come in and play that little cameo at the end which is all important in T20 cricket,” remarked Williamson.
“Sometimes the contributions might not be for a long time, the short ones are of equal importance and the guys down at the lower order kept that pressure on with the bat.”
Unsurprisingly, the Player of the Match was awarded to wicket-keeper batsman Seifert who made full use of the opportunity given to him to bat up the order in the absence of the injured Martin Guptill as he produced a breathtaking array of shots to peg the Indians back right from the word go.
“I had just had one thing in mind, to play the game the way I usually play. I have been selected for a reason so I have everything to back me up and it came off tonight. With Guptill being injured it gave me an opportunity to go up the order and show the people what I was capable of, and it worked,” said Seifert at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“It was a great way to start the series and the boys are really happy. From the start our goal was to look at the conditions and put pressure on them, to look at the first two overs and try and go from there.”
The two teams will now travel to Auckland for the second T20I which will be played at Eden Park on Friday.
First Published: February 6, 2019, 5:11 PM IST