The effective Kiwi duo of Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell scored fluent fiery half-centuries before Mitchell Santner and Michael Bracewell played a leading hand with the ball as New Zealand trounced India by 21 runs in the first T20 International, in Ranchi, to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Asked to take first strike, opener Conway continued his purple patch, scoring a 35-ball 52, while Mitchell smashed a 30-ball unbeaten 59, which included a last-over thrashing of Arshdeep Singh for 27 runs, to power the Black Caps to a challenging 176 for 6.
The Kiwi bowlers, led by Santner (2/11) and Bracewell (2/31), then spun a web around the home batters, to restrict India to 155 for 9 in 20 overs.
India were never in the chase form the start as both Ishan Kishan (4) and Rahul Tripathi (0) were sent back to the pavilion by the third over.
While Ishan was bamboozled by Bracewell, pacer Jacob Duffy (1/27) induced a fine edge off Rahul’s blade.
Shubman Gill (7) too perished soon after, deceived by Santner, as India slumped to 15 for 3.
Suryakumar Yadav (47), however, was in good touch as he picked up two boundaries before scoring one off his hips for a six off Lockie Ferguson (1/22).
Santner then bowled a maiden as India reached 33 for 3 in the powerplay overs.
With the pitch offering grip and turn, New Zealand’s spinners controlled the proceedings by keeping it flat and mixing the length even as Hardik Pandya unleashed a drive over extra cover to ease the pressure.
Suryakumar too brought out his range of sweep shots to keep the scoreboard ticking.
When Blair Tickner was introduced, he played a square cut and then sent another one through backward point for successive fours as India reached 74 for 3 in 10 overs.
Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi was then sent inside out over extra cover for a maximum but New Zealand struck twice off the next five balls to remove both the set batters.
While Surya chipped one off Sodhi to Finn Allen at long on, Hardik was caught and bowled by Bracewell as it all went downhill after that with India slipping to 85 for 5.
Deepak Hooda smacked one over the rope before being stumped. Santner then ran out Shivam Mavi and Ferguson bowled a wicket maiden, removing Kuldeep. Washington Sundar smashed a fighting 28-ball 50 but it was too late.
Earlier, opting to bowl, the Indian bowlers struggled to get their line and length at the start, allowing New Zealand to get off to a good start.
Finn Allen (35) looked in good touch as he smashed Hardik Pandya for successive boundaries, while a juicy half volley from Arshdeep was hit straight to the boundary.
Conway also punished the left-arm pacer for a widish ball as New Zealand put up 23 in two overs. Sundar, however, got a lot of purchase from the wicket and soon saw the back of Allen and Mark Chapman (0) in the space of five deliveries to reduce New Zealand to 43 for 2.
While Allen paid the price for his daredevilry as after a six he tried to repeat the shot, only to be caught by Suryakumar Yadav at deep midwicket, Chapman was done in by a flatter delivery with Sundar taking the catch after diving full length to his right.
Conway, however, kept it going with two fours and a six off Umran Malik, who bled 16 runs in his only over.
Daryl Mitchell then joined Conway and after surviving two video referrals for a caught behind and an LBW, blasted Hardik for two maximums.
Conway, on the other hand, completed his fifty in the 16th over but was sent packing soon by Arshdeep with Hooda taking the catch at long-off.
Ishan Kishan then ran out new-man Michael Bracewell (1) and Shivam Mavi had Mitchell Santner (7) caught by Rahul Tripathi as India seemed to have pulled things back.
However, Arshdeep conceded 27 runs in the last over, Mitchell clobbering him for three sixes and a four.