New Zealand roared back to form after suffering a whitewash defeat in the T20I series by beating India by four wickets in the opening ODI of the series. The Black Caps were able to successfully pursue a score of 348 – their second-highest chase in the 50-over format – courtesy of an unbeaten century from Ross Taylor.
New Zealand were playing without captain Kane Williamson, but even without their star in the line-up, the home side were able to secure the win. Tom Latham deputised for Williamson and played a fine innings to lift the team to their first victory over India this tour.
Virat Kohli’s men did set a daunting total and seemed to be on course for their sixth win on the bounce over New Zealand. Shreyas Iyer starred with the bat, notching his maiden ODI century.
However, the bowlers could not to defend the total, failing to restrict Taylor and Latham along with Henry Nicholls. The Black Caps are now in position to lock up the series by winning the second match of three at Eden Park on Saturday. Momentum is on their side and they will be desperate to atone for their T20 series defeat.
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New Zealand found life in the opening match of the ODI series. In truth they were not far off defeating India in the T20I series, only lacking a clinical edge in two of the matches that resulted in Super Over losses.
On this occasion though, the Black Caps held their composure as Taylor ensured that his side crossed the victory line with a brilliant century. Latham and Nicholls’ return to the line-up was equally as crucial as both men notched fifties at a good pace. Even without Williamson, who is missing with a shoulder injury, New Zealand’s batting line-up looks a great deal stronger.
There are still issues with their bowling attack, particularly the seaming spots. Hamish Bennett was not able to stem the tide of runs, while Tim Southee was not at his best. Colin de Grandhomme displayed his value, bowling eight solid overs and taking one wicket at a cost of 41 runs. Those figures were excellent on a day when every other bowler went the journey around the park. Look for De Grandhomme to be a crucial figure again to ease the pressure on Southee.
India manoeuvred themselves into position to win the contest, posting a daunting total of 347/4 from their 50 overs. Iyer delivered a fine performance in the middle order to score his first hundred in ODI cricket, making a vital breakthrough for his team in need of young players to thrive at the highest level. Kohli played well for his innings of 51, although he was unable to kick on.
Lokesh Rahul provided the power late on, hitting six sixes in his knock of 88 unbeaten. Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw had a decent start to the innings at the top of the order, and they will be looking to take heed from Iyer to grasp their opportunity with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan sidelined. There’s more than enough ability between the two players to make an impact.
The bowlers let the side down at Seddon Park. They were never able to pin down the Black Caps, although the short boundary in Hamilton made life difficult. Kuldeep Yadav had a poor return to the team, conceding 84 runs from his 10 overs, despite notching two wickets.
Shardul Thakur was also expensive, while the rest of the unit were not much better. They must bounce back at Auckland for the tourists to avoid a rare series defeat.
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Conditions should be fine in Auckland on Saturday through the day, with cloudy weather expected, although there will be sunny intervals. The temperature will peak at 23°C during the afternoon and will cool towards 19°C in the evening. The overhead conditions could help the seam bowlers, but even that will be marginal due to the use of the white ball.
New Zealand produced an excellent performance with the bat to defeat the tourists. Taylor was sensational, but he will have to remain at the peak of his powers for his side to triumph again. The New Zealand attack has been exposed by their lack of experience, especially in the seam bowling department.
Spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are not world-class operators so there’s nowhere Latham can turn to for complete control. Unless the Black Caps’ batting line-up fires again their hopes of winning the series are not promising.
India’s bowlers had a game to forget in Hamilton. However, it would be surprising for the whole unit to have another poor outing at Eden Park. There’s too much quality for them to struggle again so there should be a response, especially from Yadav and his left-arm spin.
Kohli has been slightly underwhelming on the tour and there will be a stellar performance from him in the offing at least once in New Zealand. With the series on the line, expect India to deliver to send it to a decider.
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Kuldeep Yadav had a game to forget in the opener, but he does have the quality to bounce back from his poor performance. The 25-year-old averages 26.16 in ODI cricket, taking 104 wickets in his 60 matches. Back him to find his form against the Black Caps.
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