New Zealand batsmen showed clinical efficiency in a tricky chase to spoil Virat Kohli’s milestone match with a comfortable six-wicket victory over India in the opening One day International, here tonight.
For the ‘Black Caps’, young gun Tom Latham (103 no) and senior pro Ross Taylor (95) batted with lot of purpose, chasing down a target of 281 in 49 overs with minimum fuss.
New Zealand lead three-match series 1-0.
This was after Virat Kohli showed his class with a gutsy 31st hundred in his 200th ODI in energy-sapping conditions to take India to 280 for 8 in 50 overs. None of the other Indian batsmen even crossed 40-run mark. During New Zealand’s chase, Taylor and Latham came together at 80 for 3 with India trying drive home the advantage but their 200-run stand for the fourth wicket proved to be a clincher in the end.
The Indian bowling attack didn’t have a plan B despite the wicket being not so conducive for batting. The best part about the New Zealand run-chase was that they achieved the target without taking undue risks. They did not try to attack spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav (1/64 in 10 overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (0/51 in 10 overs) taking all the singles and doubles on offer with occasional boundary for the taking.
They either used their stretch to play the sweep shot and on occasions waited for the turn to play the late cuts as the 20 overs by the spin twins yielded 125 runs but more improtantly, they only lost one wicket.
Taylor, who has been a regular feature in the IPL over the years faced 100 balls hitting eight boundaries while Latham — the only successful Kiwi batsman during their last tour, hit eight fours and two sixes in 102 deliveries scoring his fourth ODI hundred.
Earlier, skipper Kohli made it a memorable 200th ODI with a record breaking century in demanding conditions to guide India to respectable 280 for 8.
Kohli mixed caution with aggression hitting 121 off 125 balls — his 31st hundred in the 50-over format, that took him past former Australian captain Ricky Ponting as the second highest ton-getter in this format. Only Sachin Tendulkar with 49 hundreds is ahead of him. Hitting nine boundaries and two sixes — including a majestic bowler’s back drive to reach his fifty, Kohli became the second player behind AB de Villiers’ to reach three-figure mark in his 200th game.
While Kohli has had some regal knocks in the ODI format over the years, the energy sapping humidity and the slowness of the track made batting difficult.
Coming to bat in the fourth over, Kohli was finally dismissed in the 50th over after he had successfully steered his team to safety after they were reduced to 71 for 3 in just shade above 15 overs.
Credit should also be given to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose unbeaten cameo of 26 off 15 balls helped India cross the 275- run mark.
The two significant partnerships were a 73-run stand for the fourth wicket with Dinesh Karthik (37 off 47 balls), who got out after getting set and and 57 for the fifth wicket with Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25 runs off 42 balls).
Hardik Pandya (16) had a rare off-day by his standards.
With India losing both the openers early, Kohli showed a different approach, by taking considerable time to settle, initially dealing in ones and twos, and then taking the Kiwi bowlers to task.
After a cautious start, Kohli hit a cover drive in the 11th over and followed it up with two consecutive boundaries in the 15th over off Colin De Grandhomme.
The skipper, was lucky to get a reprieve on 29, after Mitchell Santner dropped a straight forward chance at cover off De Grandhomme.
There was no looking back for the Indian skipper after that as he punished pacer Adam Milne, hittig him for a six over long leg.
It was Trent Boult, who gave the Kiwis early breakthroughs, removing Shikhar Dhawan (9 off 12 balls) and Rohit Sharma (20 off 18 balls) cheaply on a Wankhede pitch which had spongy bounce and ball was holding up a bit.
Boult lived up to his reputation and got the ball to swing and seam. Dhawan nicked one to ‘keeper Tom Latham in the fourth over, with the hosts 16-1.
Boult then cleaned up Sharma in his next over, as he got the ball to come into the right-hander leaving India struggling at 29/2.