Iyer, Rahul star as India ace 204-run chase in T20I opener
Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul thumped blazing half-centuries to drive India towards a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the opening contest of the three-match T20I series.
Set a daunting target of 204, India marched across the finishing line with an over to spare indicating their dominance with the bat.
The match was preceded by talk of possible travel fatigue for the tourists since India arrived in New Zealand merely three days ago but the hectic cricket scheduling seemed to barely have any effect on Virat Kohli's men.
Both Rahul and Iyer scored at a rapid pace as the duo took advantage of conducive batting conditions to take the Kiwi bowlers to the cleaners.
New Zealand were also guilty of slip-ups in the field while a lack of discipline saw them concede 10 wides.
Kohli elected to bowl first after winning the coin-toss. The Indian playing XI surprisingly did not feature either Rishabh Pant or Sanju Samson while New Zealand decided to hand Hamish Bennett his maiden cap in the format.
Valuable contributions from Colin Munro (59), Kane Williamson (51) and Ross Taylor (54 not out) paved the way for New Zealand to charge past the 200-run mark.
Eden Park's short boundaries, however, meant the home side's blistering display was not enough to pose a challenge to one of the best batting sides in the world.
New Zealand opted for a bold move by throwing the new ball to spinner Mitchell Santner in the second over of the Powerplay.
This gamble taken by skipper Kane Williamson seemed to backfire when the left-arm slow bowler was punted for three boundaries but he instantly struck with the prized scalp of Rohit Sharma for just seven runs.
Rohit's rare failure in white-ball cricket was followed by Kohli and Rahul's scorching partnership as the duo combined to punish the New Zealand attack.
In the sixth over, the Black Caps committed the cardinal sin of giving a life to Rahul when he was batting on 27.
The right-handed opener was short of his crease twice on a single run when Tim Southee and the mid-wicket fielder both missed the stumps with their ill-directed throws.
Kohli was helped by an error of judgment from Ish Sodhi, who was blinded by the floodlights while trying to pouch a chance offered by the India captain.
New Zealand finally claimed quick wickets in the middle overs to stage a comeback in the T20 encounter.
Rahul and Shivam Dube were caught in the deep and Kohli departed soon after with India slumping to a perilous 142-4 by the 14th over.
Iyer and Manish Pandey swiftly recovered the momentum to set up India's victory push in emphatic style.
Iyer was the chief architect of the Men in Blue's flawless stroll to the target as he spanked three maximums and five boundaries in his match-winning knock of 58 off 29 deliveries.