New Zealand belted their way to a seven-wicket win over India in an explosive Twenty20 cricket match yesterday that produced a record number of sixes.
India, world champions at the shortest form of the game, fired from the start when they were sent into bat first in their New Zealand tour opener. But they lost wickets at regular intervals and were 162 for eight at the end of their innings.
New Zealand, with Brendon McCullum carrying his bat through their innings, replied with 166 for three, the winning runs coming from a six over the cover boundary by Jacob Oram.
It was the 24th six of the match, played on a ground with short boundaries, easily surpassing the previous record of 20 set by Australia and India in Durban two years ago during the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup.
Virender Sehwag started the six fest, clouting three off consecutive balls in the first over as India raced to 25 in the first 11 balls.
But their rollicking start was short-lived, with Iain O’Brien removing both openers in consecutive balls.
Gautam Gambhir went for six on the last ball of O’Brien’s first over and Sehwag was bowled for 26 on the first ball of his second over leaving Rohit Sharma to avoid the hattrick.
But Sharma’s innings lasted only seven balls, indicative of the problems the Indian batsmen had in trying to force the pace on a slow wicket.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni described it as a good lesson in Twenty20 batting.
“That’s where we failed as a team, there was nobody who took the responsibility to stay there in the middle,” he said. “Losing too many wickets, later you can’t really capitalize on the start you have got. So it’s very important to have wickets in hand so you can capitalize on maybe the last four or five overs.”
The most pleasing aspect for New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori was the way his bowlers responded to the heavy Indian hitting.
“For our guys to respond to that and to restrict India to 160 after getting away so quickly and also with how small the boundaries are — one side was just a toy hit — so really happy with them,” Vettori said.
Only Suresh Raina looked to have a game plan for India and his unbeaten 61, including five sixes, formed the backbone of the tourists’ innings.
The second and final Twenty20 match in the series is in Wellington tomorrow, to be followed by five one-day internationals and three Tests.
■PAKISTAN V SRI LANKA
The first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka ended in a draw after some late excitement when the tourists lost quick wickets, briefly raising hopes of an unlikely result yesterday.
The tourists averted defeat after losing five wickets for just 120 runs, finishing the match with the score of 144-5 in their second innings.
Pakistan captain Younus Khan failed to create history as he fell for 313, 24 runs short of Pakistan’s highest Test score of 334 held by Hanif Mohammad, made against the West Indies at Barbados in 1958.
The second and final Test starts in Lahore on Sunday.