India cast aside talk of travel fatigue with half-centuries from Lokesh Rahul and Shreyas Iyer headlining an emphatic run chase to beat New Zealand with an over to spare in the opening Twenty20 match in Auckland Friday.
Player of the match Iyer hit the winning runs with a booming six to be un-beaten on 58 as India reached 204 for four in reply to New Zealand’s 203 for five.
Opener Rahul (56) set up the run chase in a 99-run stand off 50 balls for the second wicket with captain Virat Kohli (45).
Although the tourists only arrived in New Zealand on Tuesday, Kohli said they were determined that would not be a factor in how they approached the game.
“We never spoke of the jet lag inside the team. We thought we’re not going to take anything for an excuse, we’re just going to come out there and back our skills,” Kohli said.
“We were just looking forward to going on the park and that’s key to doing well at the international level and probably that’s the reason why we put in a performance like that today.”
A 200-plus score on most grounds would usually be a formidable target in Twenty20 cricket but it is not so imposing at Auckland’s Eden Park with its short boundaries.
New Zealand also did not help their defence of 203 by bowling 10 wides and missing wicket opportunities with sloppy fielding.
Kohli won the first play of the day when he called correctly at the toss and elected to bowl.
Half-centuries by Colin Munro (59), Kane Williamson (51) and Ross Tay-lor (54 not out) formed the basis of the New Zealand innings.
The second match in the series is in Auckland on Sunday.
SCORES IN BRIEF
NEW ZEALAND: 203 for 5 in 20 overs (Guptill 30, Munro 59, Williamson 51, Taylor 54 not out; Bumrah 1-31, Dube 1-24, Jadeja 1-18)
INDIA: 204 for 4 in 19 overs (Rahul 56, Kohli 45, Iyer 58 not out; Sodhi 2-36)
Result: India won by six wickets.
Player-of-the-match: Shreyas Iyer.