The Indian Cricket Team couldn't have asked for a better start to 2019. After registering a historic win in the Test series against Australia, the Men in Blue also walked away with the honours in the recently concluded ODI series Down Under. As the team barges ahead in its quest to glory in the SENA countries, a new challenge awaits them at the next frontier.
India are all set to lock horns with New Zealand in what is expected to be a fiercely competitive series. Touted to be among the favourites for the upcoming World Cup, the two teams have been in scintillating form of late. While India, in their latest ODI outing, humbled the Aussies in their own backyard, New Zealand battered Sri Lanka in a bilateral series earlier this month.
Also, given the pedigree of the players who'd be taking the field, the ODI series between India and New Zealand, kicking off on 23 January, is riding on high stakes and the fans certainly seem to be in for mouthwatering stuff.
While all was not hunky-dory for Team India when they took on New Zealand during their previous tour in 2014, a few players stood out with their exceptional performances.
Virat Kohli- 1st ODI, Napier (19 January 2014)
The first ODI of the bilateral series got rolling amid much hype and frenzy. Powered by a dynamic battery, India entered the fray as strong contenders. Winning the toss, MS Dhoni chose to bowl first on a wicket that was expected to assist initial seam movement. The decision seemed to have paid dividends right away when Mohammed Shami sent the openers packing cheaply.
However, things then turned demanding for the Indians as Ross Taylor joined hands with Kane Williamson to stitch a match-defining partnership of 121 runs. The duo was later backed by a sparkling knock by Corey Anderson as the blackcaps zoomed to a score of 292 runs on the board.
Chasing a daunting target, India were handed major blows after the openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, couldn't amount to much. While star batsman Virat Kohli dug deep at one end, the Kiwis kept chipping away with timely wickets at the other.
The fiery batsman looked in sublime touch as he kept pegging away towards the target. Kohli battered the Kiwis to all parts of the ground as he went to make a memorable 123 off 111 balls.
Sadly though, the effort ended up in a losing cause as the Blackcaps proved a notch better on the day. New Zealand registered a convincing victory by 24 runs and started off the series on a winning note.
Brief Scores: New Zealand: 292/7 in 50 overs (Kane Williamson 71, Corey Anderson 68*, Mohammed Shami 4/55) India: 268-10 in 48.4 overs (Virat Kohli 123, MS Dhoni 40, Mitchell McClenaghan 4/68)