On winning the toss, India captain Rohit Sharma paused in thought, trying to remember whether the think-tank had decided to bat or bowl. But his pace quartet had no such problems when it came to its plans against the New Zealand batters.
Not only did Mohammed Shami & Co. remember the plans but also executed them to perfection on Saturday afternoon to ensure Chhattisgarhiyas celebrated the arrival of international cricket with an India win.
On a dampish pitch that was offering assistance in plenty, India’s pacers rattled the Black Caps in the PowerPlay. From 15 for five, there was no way back for the Kiwis. Another mini-collapse, with the spinners being wreckers-in-chief, then skittled out New Zealand for a paltry 108 in the 35th over.
It took India a little over 20 overs to overhaul the target, losing Rohit, who scored a sterling fifty, and Virat Kohli en route.
The game, though, was set up by the pacers early on, with Shami starring with a double blow up front. The veteran pacer exhibited his speciality of bowling full and pitching it on the seam in plenty.
Watching the master at work, Mohammed Siraj, the protege also joined in, with Shardul Thakur and Hardik Pandya following the same template.
Shami was literally unplayable. He ended Finn Allen’s stay off the fifth ball of the match, sneaking through his defence and crashing into the stumps. With the runs hard to come by, Siraj was rewarded in the sixth over as Henry Nicholls edged a fuller ball to Shubman Gill in the slip cordon.
Four balls later, Daryl Mitchell offered Shami a return catch on one that stopped slightly. In the last over of the PowerPlay overs, Hardik Pandya took a stunning one-handed return catch, bending low on his follow-through, to dismiss Devon Conway.
Writing on the wall
When skipper Tom Latham pushed hard at one from Shardul Thakur that moved slightly away, Gill was in action again and the writing was clear on the wall.
Shami then came back for a second burst from the other end to see off the dangerous Michael Bracewell with a short-ball before Glenn Phillips and Mitchell Santner put on 47 for the second wicket.
The last four wickets fell for five runs to bring the innings to a close 15 overs before schedule.
Rohit then entertained the sea of blue, with more than 60,000 fans in attendance, with a quickfire fifty. His pull shots were a treat to watch that ensured India crossed the line well in time for the fans to take the long route back home.