Three New Zealand dropped catches and a record Indian opening partnership saw the hosts triumph by 53 runs in the opening Twenty20 cricket international at Delhi.

India's 202 for three was the highest total in five T20Is at the venue; the visitors' batting fizzled under the pressure to finish at 149 for eight.

The Black Caps were left reeling at 18 for two after losing openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro within four overs.

Guptill exited courtesy of a diving Hardik Pandya catch, racing 25m towards the sightscreen from long-off. Left-hander Munro was yorked by right-armer Bhuvneshwar Kumar from over the wicket.

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Stagnation followed as neither Kane Williamson (28 off 24 balls) or new No.4 Tom Latham (39 off 36 balls) could prevent the run rate from becoming extortionate. Mitchell Santner chimed in with an unbeaten 27 from 14 balls in a lost cause.

The result was New Zealand's first loss to India from six completed internationals in the format, dating back 10 years.

Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on 158 runs, eclipsing the country's previous best of 136 for the first wicket set by Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag against England at Durban in 2007.

Dhawan secured his highest T20I score of 80 off 52 balls. He was dropped on eight by Santner at cover point in the second over, delivered by Trent Boult.

Sharma made 80 from 55 balls. He was dropped on 16 by Tim Southee at wide long off in the seventh over off Colin de Grandhomme.

Drama ensued during Sharma's dismissal at the end of the 19th over, bowled by Boult.
The opener edged behind but an umpire review declared him not out. In a moment of shrewd captaincy, Kane Williamson used New Zealand's playing review. The snickometer confirmed Sharma's exit.

Regardless, India had already made their mark at 185 for three.

The highlight for the visitors was Ish Sodhi's final over, the 17th.

He had Dhawan and pinch-hitting No.3 Pandya caught behind with his flight and guile. Dhawan's dismissal looked like a stumping, but he had found willow.

Captain Virat Kohli wasted no time making amends as he raced to 26 off 11 balls.

However, he was dropped on eight by a diving Guptill at deep mid-wicket to finish the 18th over, bowled by de Grandhomme.

Sodhi finished with New Zealand's best and most economical figures, taking two for 25 from his four overs. Each of the pace bowlers conceded 11 or more runs per over.

Dew proved a problem throughout.

Manned ropes and hessian mops were brought out in the seventh and 14th overs to offer some relief, although de Grandhomme had two balls slip from his grasp in a distended ninth over.

The match was Ashish Nehra's last in his 18-year international career. The 38-year-old became the second bowler after James Anderson to bowl from an end named in his honour.

The only downside for India? The win pushed rivals Pakistan to the top of the world T20 rankings with New Zealand dropping to second. India remain fifth.