Indian bowlers crumbled in the face of Tom Latham’s counter-attacking hundred as New Zealand rallied to crush India by seven wickets in the first ODI here on Friday.
At a venue where a 300-plus total had been chased down only once, India fancied its chances after posting 306 for seven and then leaving the New Zealanders at 88 for three in the 20th over. The host had the last laugh, reaching the target with 17 balls to spare thanks to Latham’s unbeaten 104-ball 145 and skipper Kane Williamson’s 94 not out (98b) as they added 221 runs for an unbeaten fourth-wicket partnership.
At the end of the 39th over, New Zealand needed 91 in 66 balls at nearly 8.30 runs an over.
By the time Shardul Thakur (1 for 63) had completed a forgettable 40th over, the host was in total control of the game, Latham amassing 25 runs with the help of four fours and a six. That over swung the match in New Zealand’s favour; the visiting team struggled to contain Latham, who galloped towards victory.
Latham’s belligerent innings comprised as many as 19 boundaries and five sixes, while Williamson hit seven fours and one maximum.
Tearaway pacer Umran Malik (2 for 66), though expensive, made his presence felt on debut with his thunderbolts after an impressive show by the Indian batters.
Half-century for Shreyas Iyer
Coming off a first-ball duck, Shreyas Iyer found form with a neat half-century before Washington Sundar blazed away to a 16-ball 37 to guide India to a competitive total. Besides Iyer’s 76-ball 80, Shikhar Dhawan (72, 77b) and Shubman Gill (50, 65b) struck fluent fifties after the tourist was sent in to bat. Umran bagged his maiden ODI wicket when Devon Conway went for an expansive drive off a quick delivery and got an outside edge. Rishabh Pant took an easy catch.
Daryl Mitchell became Umran’s second victim when he slashed one towards deep point. That wasn’t one the best of deliveries bowled by him on the day but the pressure he generated with his searing pace certainly helped him in getting the wicket. Williamson and Latham then rallied to lift the Kiwis to victory with a big partnership.
Earlier, Sundar smashed three sixes and as many fours to prop up India at the death, while Iyer hit four maximums and four boundaries, having entered the game after his duck in the final T20 International two days ago.
New Zealand decided to field first after winning the toss. Kane Williamson’s bowlers prevented the Indians from getting off to a flyer, but skipper Dhawan and Gill opened up after being watchful. Having reached 40 in the first 10 overs after Gill was dropped by Lockie Ferguson off the bowling of Matt Henry, the Indian openers sought to improve the run rate and looked for boundaries.
Their quest paid off as India went past 100 in the 21st over with both Dhawan and Gill clearing the ropes on a regular basis. Dhawan slashed Henry behind deep point and clipped him off pads in the 15th over to get two successive fours.
The India captain then got two more boundaries, off Adam Milne, including a smart upper cut to bring up India’s hundred. Having already hit two sixes over long-on and third man, for which he employed an excellent ramp shot, Gill got his third maximum when he smashed left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner down the ground and into the sightscreen.
Even as Dhawan got two boundaries against Tim Southee, Gill swept Santner for a boundary and closed in on fifty. However, right after reaching his half-century, Gill got out after failing to clear Devon Conway in the deep off Ferguson.
Dhawan, too, was dismissed soon after as he hit Southee straight to Finn Allen at point. When on 11, Iyer was offered a life by Tom Latham after the batter attempted the ramp shot off a short delivery from Milne. However, a delivery after guiding Ferguson to the fine-leg boundary, Pant went for the pull and dragged the ball onto his stumps, bringing to an end an innings that failed to inspire confidence.
That brought into the middle the man-in-form, Suryakumar Yadav, who got off the mark with an exquisite cover drive. But two balls, later, he was walking back to the dressing room after edging the nippy Ferguson to Allen at first slip. The duo of Iyer and Sanju Smason (36, 38b) then forged a 94-run partnership to steady the ship until the latter fell to a brilliant catch by Glenn Phillips.