India were pipped at the post in a thriller but Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with one eye on the ICC World T20, preferred to look at what went well. "As far as the team's mood is concerned, quite disappointed with the loss but lots of positives from this game," said Dhoni. "Brendon McCullum batted superbly, but I was pleased with the death bowling. Bala (L Balaji) bowled really well, which is a big plus. Of course, Irfan Pathan gave us those breakthroughs which were really important."
Virender Sehwag's unavailability because of flu meant that India had to tinker with their batting order. Virat Kohli, who was asked to open, topscored, but it was Yuvraj Singh's return that pleased Dhoni immensely. "It was good to see Yuvraj come back and score some runs. It was a big game for him. I personally feel that he gives us the right kind of balance we need," he said. "He is not someone who will bowl all four overs in a T20 game, but he is a variation that I can use especially since we have to play with four specialist bowlers."
Dhoni explained the importance of testing all the fast bowlers under match conditions and was all praise for Balaji, who marked his comeback with figures of one for 33 in four overs. "It was important to see how Balaji fared today. He has done really well in the IPL season. Death overs have been a concern for us so we want to see who are our best bowlers," said Dhoni. "With Irfan in, there are only two slots up for grabs. If Irfan is not playing, the balance of the team goes a bit haywire. I think Bala bowled really well in this game, which is good for us."
Dhoni, though, offered no excuses for failing to finish off the game. "I felt it was definitely not out of reach at any stage, especially after the platform set by Kohli," he said. "We planned to take it till the end. We had two set batsmen. We reached a good position in the end but sometimes it doesn't work out. It was tough on Rohit Sharma, given the situation he came out to bat, but Yuvi and I should have finished it off, so I take the blame."
At the other end of the spectrum James Franklin, who was just happy to end a tough tour of India with a win. "It has been a tough tour for us. We did badly in the Tests, but this is definitely something we'll celebrate. It is good end on a winning note," said Franklin, who played a key role in closing the game out at the death. "The pitch was slowing down a bit and shot making was increasingly becoming difficult. Our plan, after Virat's dismissal, was to not let the new batsman settle in and get the required run-rate up and try to induce mistakes."
New Zealand were set up by Brendon McCullum, the Man of the Match, who made a 55-ball 91, which set the tone. "It was a fantastic knock, he made things easy for us. Honestly, India's decision to field raised a few eyebrows in our camp. Having had the experience of playing the IPL here, we always knew it was a win-the-toss and bat first pitch."