What the VCA Stadium witnessed was far from what was expected which is exactly why predicting in a game like cricket can turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes. The defeat of team India at home definitely came as a surprise but what was even more surprising was the margin and way of the loss owing to a convincing performance by the New Zealanders. The Kiwi bowlers literally tore the Indian batting line up apart and made their statement of intent in style.
On a pitch that was dry, spinners were expected to get some assistance but Williamson's choice of three spinners in the playing XI and the exclusion of pros like Southee and Boult raised quite a few eyebrows but in the end it turned out to be a masterstroke as that was the decision that helped New Zealand majorly in emerging as winners in the contest.
With the ball gripping and Ashwin starting the proceedings for India the second ball of the match saw Guptill returning to the pavilion after he had smashed the very first delivery over Ashiwn's head for a clean strike. Very soon Munro followed him who too after having hit a six, struck Nehra's delivery over mid-off only to see it being pouched by Pandya. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals as they were reduced to 35-3 in just 7 overs and the with departure of skipper Kane Williamson who was one of those expected to make most of this pitch, things seemed to be very difficult around because the pair of Anderson and Taylor who tried settling down but seemed to be very awkward playing the spin. To make matters worse came the wicket of Taylor who was run out by a stunning effort from Raina off his own bowling.
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According to combined opinions of the experts and statistics 140 was par score on that pitch and New Zealand was apparently some 10-odd runs short but what followed was something one could not have imagined. To see the Indian the batting line fail the way it did must have raised up the anxiety levels of the entire crowd and the Indian fans. The start itself was dismal for India as Dhawan departed in the very first over failing to judge the line of the ball completely and ending up being trapped leg before wicket by Nathan McCullum.
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Keeping the runs under control the Kiwis were heading in the right direction and just a few more wickets put the ball securely in their court. Exactly the same thing happened and the man in form and the only hope for India in this situation of intense trouble, Virat Kohli misjudged a ball off Ish Sodhi and paid the price for edging the ball to the keeper. After that while Dhoni stood at one end and the lower middle order collapsed just like the top order on the other end, and Dhoni's efforts too died down after he got out trying to hit it big and it was just a matter of time within which India were all out for a mere 79 as the Kiwis earned a commendable 47 run victory.
The spin trio of McCullum, Santner and Sodhi played a major role in producing a result which was unthinkable and impossible to believe for many. Right choice of bowlers by the skipper and the bowlers honouring the opportunity and condititons by executing their plans perfectly saw India being completely demolished and receiving a humongous blow right at the beginning of the tournament with their weakness being exposed completely for everyone to observe. Michael Santner was declared the Man of the Match for his amazing figures of 4 wickets in 4 overs for just 11 runs.
Lack of partnerships, and the batsmen not applying their minds on a pitch and conditions that required utmost patience and intelligence, the Indians looked at sea completely with winds being totally blown out of the sails of the current Asian Champions. Amongst all the loopholes that remain to be looked into and are matters of huge concern, the biggest positive that shone out for India was Jasprit Bumrah. He seems to be a complete revelation for India with his ability to hit the deck with yorkers consistently and troubling the batsmen as the death over woes of India which seems to be there since time in memorial is healed to an extent now.
While New Zealand capitalised this opportunity gaining the best result possible compared to the expectations, for India it was a great opportunity lost and losing such opportunities in these tournaments can cost a million. If India are to live up to the aspirations of innumerable people at home they surely need to put their heads on the table and chalk out the necessary stuff before they encounter Pakistan at the Eden Gardens on 19th March.