Sharpen up the fielding and somebody please shore up an end so the best of leg spinner Ish Sodhi can be unleashed on India's batsmen.

Those are the gleanings from New Zealand's opening 53-run loss to India at Delhi in their three-match Twenty20 series.

Any batting issues were more collateral damage, enforced via an extortionate required run rate.

The hosts could wrap up the series in Rajkot on Sunday morning (New Zealand time) if the visitors fail to remedy the situation.


Let's start with the Black Caps' hands. Three catches went down, at an opportunity cost of 154 runs.

A record Indian T20I opening partnership of 158 resulted between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, 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 Mitchell 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, from the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme.

Captain Virat Kohli wasted no time racing to 26 off 11 balls. He was dropped on eight by a diving Martin Guptill at deep mid-wicket to finish the 18th over, bowled by de Grandhomme.

A highlight for New Zealand was Ish Sodhi's final over, the 17th.

He had Dhawan and pinch-hitting No.3 Hardik Pandya caught behind courtesy of his flight and guile. Dhawan's dismissal looked like a stumping, but a trace of willow echoed into Tom Latham's gloves.

Sodhi finished with New Zealand's best and most economical figures, taking two for 25 from four overs. However, each pace bowler conceded 11 or more runs per over, meaning Sodhi could not unleash his maximum aggression.


"Partnership bowling is so important where, if one guy is containing, you feel like you can attack. In T20s that might be for two balls of my overs," Sodhi told Radio Sport.

"I like to think of myself as an aggressive bowler, that's what I bring to the team. If I go in too defensively, anyone can do that role. I can take the ball both ways, so my first instinct is to take wickets.

"In my last over, I was expecting them to come at me [with wickets in hand], so you can plan for it."

Sodhi needs to create enough of an illusion, by flighting the ball above the batsman's eyeline, to evoke temptation. Simultaneously he's trying to drift the ball laterally to generate doubt.

No one is expecting the 25-year-old to perform miracles, but if he continues the form which saw him take New Zealand to the semi-finals of the 2016 World T20 in India with 10 wickets at an average and strike rate of 12, he will be a prized asset in the remaining two games.

India's 202 for three was the highest total in five T20Is at the venue; New Zealand fizzled out to 149 for eight, incurring their first loss to India from six completed internationals in the format.

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

Captain Williamson refused to use that as an excuse.

"India played superbly in all facets and we just need to play better. Naturally, chasing a total like that which is many above par on that surface, you take risks and need a bit to go your way.

"The spinners bowled well, but the bowlers around them were put under such pressure that we couldn't use them [Sodhi and Mitchell Santner] in a more aggressive role, as we would've liked."

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 T20I rankings with New Zealand dropping to second. India remain fifth but will trade places with New Zealand if they win on Sunday.