A stunning century from Suryakumar Yadav has helped India hand the Black Caps a heavy defeat in their first action since the T20 World Cup.
The world’s top-ranked batsman blasted an unbeaten 111 from 52 balls as India racked up 191-6 to eventually take a 1-0 lead in this rain-interrupted series at Bay Oval tonight.
New Zealand never threatened to mount a serious tilt at that target, being bowled out in the 19th over while falling to a 65-run loss.
Kane Williamson (61 from 52) occupied the crease but accomplished little, with Tim Southee’s final-over hat-trick about all the home fans had to cheer.
The large contingent of Indian supporters, on the other hand, were continually delighted by some outrageous shotmaking from Yadav.
No matter what line or length that Black Caps bowlers attempted to employ against Yadav, the end result was generally the same - the ball flying to or over the fence.
The 32-year-old cracked 11 fours and seven sixes while striking at 218, sparing no bowler from his onslaught. Once Yadav was settled at the crease, he smashed 87 runs from the final 35 balls he faced, setting a pace that no other player on either side came close to matching.
Both teams were taking to the field for the first time since losing in the semifinals of the World Cup, with India making six changes while the Black Caps swapped only Adam Milne for Trent Boult.
After electing to bowl, Milne, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson all initially struggled to find their line as India reached 42-1 at the end of the powerplay, with Southee completing a fine running catch for the breakthrough.
That brought Yadav to the crease and, after a brief rain delay, he struck his first six from Mitchell Santner’s opening over, lapping a sweep over fine leg as India made it to halfway on 75-2.
The acceleration from the world No 1 was first steady and eventually spectacular, lifting his side to 119-3 after 15 before launching in devastating style.
Yadav almost single-handedly delivered the three biggest overs of the innings between the 17th and 19th, as India collected 17 from Southee, 18 from Milne and 22 from Ferguson.
He used all parts of his crease and showcased a full array of shots, clipping one casually over the wicketkeeper’s head before driving deep over third man the next ball.
His second T20I century was the result and, mercifully, Southee began the 20th over with the dangerman at the bowler’s end, feasting on the middle order to complete his second T20I hat-trick.
Yadav didn’t face a delivery in the over but received handshakes from his opponents and was greeted with a bow by his teammates, finishing with almost as many fours as dot balls (13).
Needing to attack from the opening over to stand a chance, the Black Caps’ hopes were severely diminished when Finn Allen fell while looking to drive from the second ball.
Devon Conway took until the fifth over to hit his first boundary, with he and Williamson managing only three in the powerplay as they reached 32-1.
Williamson finally found some timing and hit a one-handed six over long off as the hosts scored 17 from the seventh over, but that would prove an anomaly.
Conway (25 off 22) was caught while looking for the fence with a slog sweep and, after smacking two quick boundaries, Glenn Phillips was soon deceived by a slower ball from Yuzvendra Chahal as New Zealand scratched to 71-3 at the halfway mark.
Williamson - who this week was released by IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad - was on a run-a-ball 28 and continued to show little urgency, with the required rate climbing above 12 as his side went 28 balls without a boundary.
That period also saw Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham fall cheaply, all but condemning the Black Caps to a comprehensive defeat.