Ross Taylor hit his 21st ODI hundred while Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham smashed aggressive half-centuries as New Zealand chased down 348 against India to take a 1-0 lead in the first match of the 3-ODI series in Hamilton on Wednesday.
This was New Zealand’s highest successful run chase in ODIs. In 2007, they had gunned down 347 against Australia, incidentally also in Hamilton.
New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls were very watchful to start with. Without Kane Williamson, the Black Caps had to be careful and both Guptill and Nicholls were happy to run the ones and twos for the better part of their partnership.
In fact, Guptill had hit only one boundary in his knock of 32 by the time he fell to Shardul Thakur in the 16th over. Tom Blundell was done in by Kuldeep Yadav’s guile and KL Rahul’s superb glovework in the 20th over but thereafter, India did not much to smile about.
Ross Taylor joined forces with Nicholls and the two added 62 in a steadying partnership before Virat Kohli’s stunning direct-hit caught Nicholls short of the crease for 78. And then came the Tom Latham storm.
Standing in for Kane Williamson as captain for the first two ODIs, Latham took a while to get his eyes in but exploded soon after. Ross Taylor, meanwhile, raced to his 50th ODI half-century and the two men threatened to take the game away from India – in 10 overs from 30 to 40, Taylor and Latham clobbered 117 runs to bring the asking rate down to manageable limits.
Latham fell to Kuldeep Yadav for 69 in the 46th over but by then, the game was New Zealand’s to lose. Latham had added 138 for the 4th wicket with Taylor, who was now closing in on a hundred.
It was an outstanding batting performance from New Zealand and Ross Taylor in particular after the disappointment of the 5-0 whitewash in the T20I series.
And for India, this is the third time in a row that they have lost the first match of a bilateral ODI series. Against West Indies as well as Australia, India had bounced back 0-1 to win the series.
After New Zealand won the toss and decided to field, Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal created a bit of history. It was only the 4th time that both Indian openers were making their debut in the same match.
However, Agarwal is now an established Test opener while Shaw had looked like owning that position before an injury sidelined him. Both men had been playing in New Zealand with the India A team and did not show the nerves of debutants.
The pair brought up the 50-run partnership in the 8th over but Prithvi Shaw fell to Colin de Grandhomme for 20 while Mayank Agarwal perished to Tim Southee in the next over for a 31-ball 32.
Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer were cautious in a 102-run stand for the 3rd wicket. The pair looked like it could press on from thereon after Kohli brought up his 3rd successive half-century in ODIs this year.
But Kohli was done in by an Ish Sodhi googly for 51. This was the 17th time he had been dismissed by a leg-spinner in his ODI career. Besides, this was the 11th time Kohli had got to 50 since the start of the World Cup – however, he had converted those into hundreds only twice with back-to-back centuries against West Indies.
Virat Kohli’s dismissal brought KL Rahul to the crease and India’s new wicketkeeper-batsman immediately changed the tone with some sensational stroke play. Shreyas Iyer, meanwhile, also started to open his arms and before long, had smashed his first hundred in international cricket.
Iyer’s inclusion has given plenty of cushion in a middle-order which was cause for concern even in the 2019 World Cup. Iyer was the first Indian No.4 to score an ODI hundred since Manish Pandey’s Sydney hundred against Australia in 2016.
KL Rahul now has clarity with his batting position and that has perhaps allowed him to settle down nicely at No.5 in ODIs. After an enterprising 80 against Australia at home, Rahul showed why he is so highly regarded by his captain with 6 sixes and 3 fours in an unbeaten 64-ball 88.
Kedar Jadhav, who replaced Manish Pandey at No.6, played a nice cameo to help India post a daunting total on a good batting pitch.