India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI: Ross Taylor scripts New Zealand's victory
Shreyas Iyer 103(107), KL Rahul 88*(64); Tim Southee 2-85
New Zealand: 348/6
Ross Taylor 109(84), Henry Nicholls 78(82); Kuldeep Yadav 2-84
MoM: Ross Taylor
The change in format has brought New Zealand some much-needed respite. Ross Taylor's magnificent century coupled with significant fifties from Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham saw New Zealand overhaul India's formidable 347 and register an elusive triumph in Hamilton's series opener. The morale-boosting victory would do New Zealand a world of good considering their torrid run of late.
Laying the foundation
Martin Guptill and Nicholls initiated New Zealand's response with tremendous composure. The flamboyant strokeplayers curbed their natural instincts and focused on setting a platform. The Blackcaps were progressing steadily when Guptill squandered his start for the umpteenth time, opening India's window to wrestle back the advantage.
Forthwith, Kuldeep Yadav outwitted Tom Blundell, leaving New Zealand staring down the barrel. Experienced campaigner Ross Taylor joined forces with Nicholls to weather the storm. The pair executed a measured counter-attack and swiftly transferred the pressure back to India. Kuldeep Yadav putting down Taylor on 10 proved climacteric in the match's context. However, Virat compensated for the missed opportunity by exhibiting sensational athleticism to run-out the well-set Nicholls on 78.
Another batting implosion was on the cards for New Zealand, but skipper Latham had other ideas. The dynamic left-hander fired loaded salvos right from the outset, leaving Virat's men gasping for breath. From Jasprit Bumrah's hostility to Ravindra Jadeja's chicanery, nothing could stumble the roadblocks upon the Taylor-Latham juggernaut. The asking rate plummeted and India's desperation grew manifold - evident from the numer of wides and freebies offered during the middle phase.
Kuldeep Yadav delayed the inevitable by removing Latham, but the damage inflicted by the southpaw had already left New Zealand with a comfortable equation to manage. The 'choke' ghosts returned to haunt the Kiwis as a couple of wickets tumbled towards the fag end, but Taylor and Santner held their nerves and completed the formalities, making sure the host nation tastes success after numerous reprehensible defeats.
India recuperate after early hiccups
Earlier, it didn't take long for debutants Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agrawal to show why they're spoken so highly of. Despite some prodigious lateral movement early on, the youngsters didn't hold back and kept finding the fence regularly.
Considering the seaming conditions, throwing the ball to Colin de Grandhomme was New Zealand's best bet. The medium pacer struck immediately as Shaw nicked behind an innocuous outswinger. Agarwal followed suit, drilling Tim Southee's juicy half-tracker to point.
New Zealand continued to operate with a packed off-side field, but for India, run-scoring was never going to be an uphill task with the free-scoring Virat Kohli assuming charge. The ideal support was provided by Shreyas Iyer, who rallied the visitors after being dropped twice earlier.
The proactive duo forged a vital hundred-run stand as New Zealand laboured in the quest of a breakthrough. Something special was needed to break the partnership, and Ish Sodhi produced the spark when his googly rattled Virat's furniture.
However, Iyer shifted gears after reaching his fifty to ensure India don't concede any momentum whatsoever. Much to New Zealand's chagrin, KL Rahul embarked on a six-hitting spree and further consolidated India's position.
Nearing three figures, Iyer miscued another hoick but the hosts deemed generous yet again. Southee eventually terminated Iyer's masterclass, but Rahul and Kedar capitalized on New Zealand's poor death bowling to yield the splendid finishing kick.
"An oustanding performance from New Zealand. We thought 347 was good enough, especially after the start we got with the ball. I think Tom's innings took the game away from us. We were decent in the field, we dropped one chance. We need to improve though. I got to say that the opposition played better than us today. Both new openers gave us a good start, hope they continue to do the same. Shreyas's hundred was outstanding and KL was really good as well." quipped Virat.Published 05 Feb 2020, 16:37 IST