Title favourites India capitulated to a shocking 47-run defeat against a spirited New Zealand in the opening match of the ICC World T20 in Nagpur on Tuesday night.
After restricting New Zealand 126 for seven, India put up a pathetic batting display and were bundled out for 79 in 18.1 overs -- their second lowest Twenty20 total -- on a turning track at a jam-packed VCA Stadium in Jamtha.
It was a horrendous performance by the hosts, ranked world No 1 in the Twenty20 format. Their famed batting line-up showed poor skills and application while suffering their fifth successive defeat to the Kiwis.
With impressive figures of 4-0-11-4 young left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner turned out to be New Zealand's star performer with the ball, recording the best bowling figures by a Kiwi tweaker in India.
The home team will now proceed to Kolkata to take on arch-foes Pakistan in their second game on March 19, while New Zealand travel to Dharamsala to clash with Trans-Tasman rivals Australia a day earlier.
India's jinx in the T20 format against the Kiwis continued as the batting department came a cropper against the Kiwi spin trio of Nathan McCullum, Santner and Ish Sodhi.
Among the top five batsmen, only Virat Kohli reached double figures, scoring 23 off 22 balls, including two fours, while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made a run-a-ball 30, with one six and as many fours, and Ravichandran Ashwin (10) were the others to do so.
Dhoni prolonged India's innings, which looked a totally lost cause with the hosts staggering at 43 for seven and improved marginally to 61 for seven after the 15th over, and was the ninth batsmen to be dismissed, caught at long on off Santner after striking Sodhi for a huge straight six a little while earlier.
Nine of India's 10 wickets fell to the Kiwi spin trio while last man Ashish Nehra was castled by pacer Adam Milne.
Santner captured a stunning four for 11, Sodhi three for 18 and McCullum, the senior-most spinner, took two for 15.
India commenced their modest chase on a shocking note, losing four wickets for 26 inside the powerplay, and then lost their in-form batsman Kohli at 39 in the ninth over.
The procession started when Shikhar Dhawan tried a sweep a McCullum. Then Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina fell in the same over to Santner, stumped and caught at short mid-wicket respectively, before Yuvraj departed in the fifth over.
Yuvraj was caught and bowled by McCullum, an appeal that was reviewed by the third umpire before he was given out after it was confirmed that the ball had not hit the ground off the bat before being caught.
Leg-spinner Sodhi then made a stunning debut by dismissing Kohli, the lone batsman till then to show some fight, caught behind off the fourth ball of his first over, to leave the huge crowd stunned into silence.
Worse followed with Dhoni standing a mute spectator at the other end as all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja departed for 1 and 0 respectively.
Both the players were unable to negotiate the spinning ball as India were left on the brink of an embarrassing defeat at 43 for seven.
From there on, the asking was too tough even though Dhoni and Ashwin stitch a 30-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Earlier, India produced superb bowling and fielding to contain New Zealand to a modest 126 for seven.
On a track that assisted slow bowling, all the Indian bowlers -– barring Ravichandran Ashwin who went for 32 runs -– shone in the all-round bowling performance.
Rookie medium pacer Jasprit Bumrah (one for 15) was easily the most impressive bowler and also accounted for Anderson, while Ravindra Jadeja (one for 26) and Suresh Raina (one for 16) were also economical.
Nehra got one for 20 while Ashwin, who opened the bowling, too turned out to expensive but accounted for the wicket of opener Martin Guptill.
New Zealand, opting to bat first after winning the toss, come in with positive intent, attacked Ashwin and upset the off-spinner's rhythm from the first ball. They succeeded to a large extent although losing the wicket of Guptill in the process.
Guptill, known for his big-hitting, stunned the huge crowd by clobbering the first ball of the match from Ashwin over the straight-field for a six. But the bowler got his revenge in the next ball when he trapped Guptill leg before as the batsman went across for a slog-sweep.
The drama continued in the first over as new-man Colin Munro hit the fourth ball with a switch-hit for a six and the off-spinner conceded 13 runs in the first over.
Nehra reduced the Kiwis to 13 for two when Munro spooned a drive to mid-off fielder Pandya.
New Zealand's batting was largely disappointing as they were unable to come to terms with the pitch and the home team's bowling.
Anderson (24 in 42 balls) held the innings together till the 16th over and then perished trying to up the tempo which was sagging far too much.
Wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi smashed 21 not out off 11 balls, inclusive of one six and two fours, and helped New Zealand get 15 runs in the final over, to push the score past 120.
While Ashwin proved expensive, conceding 26 runs in his first three overs, Nehra was tight and Bumrah, playing in his first major ICC event, bowled a fine spell to keep the batsmen under a tight leash.
Dhoni sprang a surprise by introducing Raina in place of Ashwin and the move paid unexpected dividends. The part-time offie lured rival captain Kane Williamson out of the crease and had him stumped smartly by his Indian counterpart, leaving New Zealand struggling at 35 for three in the seventh over.
At the half-way mark of their innings, New Zealand's total did not look healthy at 55 for three.
Raina produced a magical piece of fielding off his own bowling to pack off Ross Taylor for 10, with the total reading 61.
After 15 overs, New Zealand's score read a poor 89 for four. To add to their woes, they lost Anderson who, after being tied down by some tight wicket-to-wicket bowling, was cleaned up by Bumrah in the 16th over.
In the final over, Ronchi struck a six and a four off Nehra to boost the total.