What was being tipped to be a thrilling game ended as a one-sided affair, as India thrashed New Zealand by 53 runs in the first T20 International on Wednesday (November 1st)?
With New Zealand’s numero uno status, their undefeated streak against India in T20Is and the way they performed in the One-Day Internationals, hopes were high that the Kiwis would put up a good challenge. However, barring the toss, nothing went right for them in front of a jam-packed Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
Williamson’s decision to bowl first would have got justified to some extent had the fielders backed the bowlers, but it was not New Zealand’s day, and it became very much clear when Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were given reprieves very early in the innings. The Indian openers fully capitalised on the opportunities, slamming 80 each to share a record 158-run stand before some fireworks from skipper Virat Kohli took the score to a mammoth 202 for three in the allotted 20 overs. In reply, the visitors never looked in contention and were eventually restricted to 149 for eight.
Speaking after the loss, Williamson did not beat around the bush and admitted his side was below par, conceding that his team got outplayed in all the areas by ‘a very good Indian side’.
“The conditions are tough to prepare for exactly, but given the experience within our side, we’re certainly not using that as an excuse,” Williamson said. “Most of the time when you come here and play in the evening, there’s dew as there is on a number of other grounds that guys have played at. Not going to sugarcoat it but we were below par and came up against what is a very good Indian side that played very well in all the areas.
“Like I mentioned, we were outplayed in all the areas, fielding included, which is something we pride ourselves on and something we need to be much better at in Twenty20 cricket. That made the difference as we saw today that proved to be vital in a lot of ways. Guys went on to score big scores for their side in the Indian team, and 200 on that surface was a very big total,” he added.
New Zealand was forced to play the chasing game from the very start when their openers departed with only 18 runs on the board and Williamson said losing early wickets put the team on the backfoot.
“We were under pressure pretty much from the word go. Losing early wickets puts you on the backfoot and on the surface, there it was stopping and turning. Trying to accelerate the run rate when you are under pressure is not an easy task. That was the nature of the batting innings. We were never able to get momentum in our batting against them to try and get close to the total. Every time we attempted to increase the run rate, we lost wickets. A lot of it is our fault, and then India bowled very well as well, so the combination of that certainly didn’t allow us to get close to the total,” rued the captain.
Williamson also had a word of praise for India’s pace duo Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
“They’re both very good bowlers (Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar). Because they got off to a good start, we were on the backfoot. The surface was seaming around, offering a bit to the seamers, but we had to have a defensive approach to try and combat their aggression because they were putting us under pressure. I guess the other side of that coin is when the bowling side is on top, and they’re able to hit the wicket and use the surface like we saw Bumrah and the others in their bowling attack, which was very difficult. That’s Twenty20 cricket. You do need to be aggressive to try and take on bowlers, and we’ve seen Bhuvi and Bumrah throughout not just the one-dayers, but for a long time in the IPL. I’ve been fortunate to play with Bhuvi and against Bumrah, and they’re the most consistent bowlers in world cricket,” he said.
“It’s also sort of the nature of T20 cricket. It’s such an aggressive format that no matter who you are, you can go for a few runs. It is fickle in terms of the results and how guys approach it. Batters need to be aggressive. If they come off, then the bowler sort of loses it like we saw tonight. India batted very, very well and put our bowlers under pressure. But both of those bowlers (Boult and Southee), as we know, are very good operators and will look to make amends going into the next game. Not just them, all of us want to be better in all three areas of the game,” he concluded.
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