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India v New Zealand, 1st T20I – Who Said What

India registered their first ever win against New Zealand in T20Is.

Ashish Nehra
Ashish Nehra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The first T20I between India and New Zealand was a highly anticipated encounter. The fact that the visiting team had given the hosts a run for their money in the ODI series made the contest a lot more exciting. Moreover, the fact that the Indian team had never won a T20I match against New Zealand set things up perfectly for the match.

The action moved to Feroze Shah Kotla, Delhi for the first T20I of the 3-match series. Indian openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, put on 158 runs for the first wicket – the highest first wicket partnership for India in T20I cricket. Both batsmen scored identical scores of 80 in the match. Some fine batting from Virat Kohli and a maximum from MS Dhoni helped the hosts post 202 runs on the board.

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In the run chase, the talk was all about the farewell bowling innings of Ashish Nehra. A career that spanned almost two decades, Nehra has been a great servant of Indian cricket. Albeit he went wicketless, the Indian team managed to ensure a clinical win in the match. None of the New Zealand batsmen could get going as the innings wrapped up at 149 to concede India a 53 run win.

Man of the Moment – Ashish Nehra

It was not the kind of end that Nehra would have liked but all good things do come to an end. Nehra finished with 0/29 in the four overs that he bowled on the day. However, he was happy to be on the winning side. He had his lap of honor after the game and got standing applause from the Delhi crowds. Reflecting back at his career, Nehra expressed his satisfaction over his India career.

Ashish Nehra said: I will miss all this. That’s what you train for. One thing which will definitely be at peace will be my body. I said earlier that I can go a couple more years, but there can’t be a better time to walk away. I must be the one bowler who sent down the last over most number of times for India. But those times were different; there was no pressure today. The game has changed a lot since I started playing. I played my first game here in 1997. The rules have changed and so many runs are being scored. But whatever happens, this team is here to stay. The future of Indian cricket is in safe hands for the next six-seven years. I have played under many different people, but it has been a memorable journey.

He further added that everything depends on the way people perceive it. He noted that it was the right time to call it a day in international cricket. He could have extended it by a month or a couple of years. But in the end, finishing off on a winning note in blue colors is totally heartening. He said he is happily retiring from the game.

Nehra added: I was telling Viru also this; he scored so many runs, but people still call him Multan ka Sultan, so you are remembered for a particular moment. At times, you pick up wickets off bad balls, but as a cricketer, you in front of a mirror need to realise how well you are playing and what you need to do. There are so many people who asked me if I would have liked to play Test cricket. But you can see the glass as half-full or half-empty. I last played Test cricket when I was 24 or 25, but at the end, to have played for 18 years and to be here standing in blue clothing and to have played my final match, I could not have asked for anything more. I have no regrets. I am always happy, retired or otherwise.

New Zealand Captain – Kane Williamson

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson looked dejected at the defeat but hoped to improve in the matches to come. He mentioned that things could never be easy when the target is as daunting as the one they got on the day. Williamson hopes to bounce back in the Rajkot game. Lastly, the Kiwi skipper congratulated Ashish Nehra for a very successful career.

Kane Williamson said: A disappointing performance from us in all areas. One that stands out is the fielding. We were very poor there. I don’t think we can use the ground conditions as an excuse.India were superb and played better. When you’re chasing a total like that which was certainly many above par, you do need to take risks. It was disappointing but we will be back in Rajkot. We couldn’t quite use the spinners the way we would have liked to, which was to control the rate of scoring, but they bowled very well. I would like to congratulate Ashish Nehra on a fabulous career. Always a gentleman.

India Captain – Virat Kohli

Team India skipper Virat Kohli looked very pleased with the way his boys fared up on the day. He hailed the team’s overall performance. He specifically mentioned the catch that Hardik Pandya took on the day. He had special words of mention for Shikhar Dhawan and Axar Patel too. He justified the selection of an extra bowler in the lineup.

Virat Kohli said: Very clinical performance with the whole team. I thought the wicket was damp but Rohit and Shikhar were outstanding. And with the ball as well, we were brilliant. The bowlers bowled where they should and the fielders backed it up. That catch by Hardik Pandya is one of the best I have seen. Shikhar’s one-day game is so good and he always wanted to convert that into T20 as well. I think his adaptability was spot-on today and he unleashed all the shots he had. In T20 cricket,you need to keep picking wickets to win games and it’s always nice to have options. Using Hardik at 6 and Axar at 7 gave us those options. As a captain, you always need an extra option to pick wickets.

Commenting on Ashish Nehra, Kohli mentioned that the veteran superstar has had a brilliant career. He spoke about the viral social media pic where a young chubby Kohli is seen receiving some award from Ashish Nehra. He hailed Nehra for having served the country for almost two decades.

Virat Kohli said: That was back in 2003 after he had come back from the World Cup. I was 13 then and struggling for a place in the school team. To have played 19 years is very hard for a fast bowler. I know how professional he’s been and how hard he’s worked. He deserved this kind of a farewell with the crowd cheering him. He can now spend time with his family, he’s got a beautiful family. We’ll stay in touch but we’ll miss him and I wish him all the best.

Man of the Match – Shikhar Dhawan

Team India opener Shikhar Dhawan was named as the Man of the Match for his whirlwind knock of 80 runs at the top of the order. Dhawan expressed his happiness over the way he batted on the day. He remarked that he had to take the role of the aggressor since Rohit Sharma did not get his feet going early on in the innings.

Shikhar Dhawan said: I was very happy with the way I batted today. It was needed because I hadn’t really performed in T20 internationals. It wasn’t an easy wicket. Rohit started slowly, so I took over and did the scoring. I feel like I can play anywhere on the ground. I’ve got all the shots. All three formats are very important for me. I love all three formats and I love this game. I’ve got the belief that I can perform in all three formats and I make sure my processes and fitness are in place so I can compete with 25-year olds.

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