Sports ODI Win

Ashish Nehra celebrates along with teammates after the end of the first T20 match between India and New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi Nov. 1, 2017. This was his last international match. India won by 53 runs. (Surjeet Yadav/IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal shared four wickets as India eased to a 53-run victory over New Zealand in the first Twenty20 of their three-match series Nov. 1.

Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who both scored 80, put on 158 runs for the opening wicket as the hosts swept to 202-3. India’s bowling attack then limited the tourists to 149-8 in reply, with Tom Latham top-scoring on 39.

“It was a very clinical performance by the whole team. The wicket was a bit damp and the two guys at the top set the tone for us,” India captain Virat Kohli said.

New Zealand’s innings never gathered momentum and a regular loss of wickets inevitably led to its first defeat to India in this format.

The slide started early, when Hardik Pandya took a stunning, diving catch at long on to dismiss Martin Guptill (4) off Chahal in the second over. Bhuvneshwar Kumar then bowled Colin Munro for 7.

Kane Williamson (28) and Latham tried to rescue the Black Caps, only for Williamson to edge behind off Pandya, leaving his team on 54-3.

Patel then struck twice to remove Tom Bruce (10) and Colin de Grandhomme (0) in the space of two balls to reduce New Zealand to 84-5 in the 13th over and end all realistic chances of a successful chase.

Kohli ran out Henry Nicholls (6) with a direct throw to deny, Latham was stumped off Chahal and Tim Southee was caught behind.

Ashish Nehra bowled the last over of the New Zealand innings to finish off his 18-year-long international career.

“I will miss it all,” Nehra said. “My body will be at peace because I have really pushed myself over the years. I played my first game here in 1997 and there have been drastic changes. Indian cricket is in good hands for the next seven, eight years.”

Earlier, Sharma and Dhawan had laid the foundations of the win with the highest wicket stand for India in T20s.

Both started cautiously and were helped by some poor fielding by the Black Caps. Dhawan was dropped in the second over, Sharma in the seventh, and they picked up the scoring pace after those let-offs.

Dhawan was finally caught behind off Ish Sodhi in the 17th over. Hardik Pandya (0) was promoted, but he too was caught behind two balls later.

Virat Kohli then smacked 26 off 11 balls at his home ground, as India crossed 200 in the final over. Sharma was last man out, caught behind off Trent Boult, via DRS review.

The second T20 will be played Nov. 4 at Rajkot.

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