Mount Maunganui: The forecast for Mount Maunganui for Sunday's match seemed bleak: oscillating between scattered and isolated thunderstorms. But when the match happened, barring 26 minutes of rain in India's innings, nothing came as per the predicted weather forecast.
Though thunderstorms stayed away, Suryakumar Yadav whipped up a storm of his own under the night sky at a sell-out Bay Oval. Against a New Zealand bowling attack who were far from their consistent best, Suryakumar put out yet another 360-degree astonishing masterclass in T20I batting with an unbeaten 49-ball century to propel India in thrashing the Blackcaps by 65 runs.
On a sluggish pitch almost all Indian, as well as New Zealand batters, found it tough to time the ball, Suryakumar, the top-ranked T20I batter, hit 11 fours and seven sixes all over the park at a strike rate of 217.65 to be unbeaten on 111 off 51 balls, which Virat Kohli aptly called on Twitter "another video game innings".
From being 57 off 35 balls at the end of the 16th over, Suryakumar smacked 54 runs off his last 16 balls to propel India to a challenging 191/6, despite not getting the strike in the final over of the innings.
For New Zealand, who had a forgettable outing with the ball barring a last-over hat-trick from Tim Southee, they just couldn't get going with the bat and were bowled out for 126 in 18.5 overs.
Kane Williamson top-scored with 61, but his struggle and inability to time the ball well was a painstaking sight. Deepak Hooda picked up four wickets, including three in the 19th over, while Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Siraj starred with two wickets each.
Suryakumar's start wasn't a rosy one as he was beaten on consecutive deliveries after getting off the mark with a brace. He then eventually got going with a scooped four clearing the keeper off Lockie Ferguson. Suryakumar then swept Mitchell Santner for six over a deep backward square leg.
He marched forward in his trademark style, carving delightful drives, especially going inside-out twice over extra cover off Ish Sodhi for a brace of fours. Suryakumar took a special liking to pace from Ferguson to whip off his hips over fine leg for six, leaving everyone in awe of the shot.
After reaching his fifty in 32 balls, Suryakumar again delighted the crowd by dancing down the pitch for a crisp lofted six over deep extra cover off Santner. He then brought out his supple wrists to flick Southee for six and four in the first two balls of the 17th over, before hitting Milne for a brace of sixes on slower balls over long-off and fine leg.
Suryakumar toyed with Ferguson in the 19th over, opening the face of the bat late to carve over the third man for four. He then hit the tearaway pacer for three fours and a six in the 19th over, the second of which got him a 49-ball century with a beautiful drive-through extra cover in a blazing show of batsmanship.
Rest of the Indian batters looked pale in comparison to Suryakumar. Rishabh Pant pulled to short third man on a short, outside the off-stump ball from Ferguson. Ishan Kishan looked good in his 36 before cutting straight to short third man off Sodhi.
Shreyas Iyer sparkled in lofting Sodhi on both sides of the 'v' for four and six. But in a bid to flick off Ferguson, his backfoot disturbed the stumps and was out hit-wicket. Hardik Pandya, Hooda and Washington Sundar became hat-trick victims for Southee.
India struck on just the second ball of defending 191 as Bhuvneshwar Kumar enticed Finn Allen to go for a drive and the edge flew to the running third man. Williamson and Devon Conway hit six boundaries, including taking 17 runs off Washington Sundar's first over of the match.
But India bounced back as Conway mistimed a sweep to a deep backward square leg off Sundar in the ninth over. Glenn Phillips hammered a four and six but was clean-bowled by Chahal while going for a slog-sweep.
The scoreboard pressure then led to Daryl Mitchell and James Neesham holing out to long-on in quick succession. Mitchell Santner got a leading edge and was caught by Siraj in his follow-through, the result was a foregone conclusion.
Though Williamson got his fifty with a pulled six over deep backward square leg and punched beautifully through the off-side for four more off Siraj, it was too little too late for New Zealand.