IND v NZ 1st ODI Review: Clinical India take 1-0 lead in the series

IND v NZ 1st ODI Review: Clinical India take 1-0 lead in the series

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni India
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Virat Kohli danced down the wicket to loft Ish Sodhi for a maximum as Team India needed 3 runs to win from 17 overs to ensure his team takes a 1-0 lead in the five-match ODI series. The hosts were in absolute control of the game from the toss to the last ball as they never dropped their guard and started the ODI leg on a high as well. New Zealand is a much better limited-overs side and wasn’t expected to be that easy but in the end, the visitors failed to strike a combination with the bat or the ball to be a force in the first ODI.

On a bright sunny day in Dharamshala, 1317 meters above the sea level Indian limited-overs skipper MS Dhoni, fresh and beaming walked out to the middle with a pale looking Kane Williamson. The coin flipped against Williamson’s wish and Dhoni confidently elected to bowl first in what was the 900th ODI for Team India.

Ahead of the start of play, the Sunil Gavaskar expected the pitch to be a batting beauty and a lot of people were surprised with Dhoni’s decision; he was not just looking to make the best of the early movement but the due factor was expected to play a certain role in the second inning which would make the Indian spinners ineffective.

A few minutes before that Indian legend Kapil Dev entered the huddle of Indian players to hand over young all-rounder Hardik Pandya his ODI cap. Today was the day Kapil had also made his debut in Tests. Team India played with two pacers and spinners with Pandya the seam bowling all-rounder. New Zealand, on the other hand, brought in pacer Tim Southee and their ever reliable all-rounder Corey Anderson.

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Dhoni opted to start with Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya and his new ball pair was spot on. Both the bowlers bowled at a healthy pace and pitched the ball up, right at the batsmen which helped them extract movement in the air and off the surface. Pandya, in particular, looked an improved bowler as he had earlier displayed a tendency to bowl short of length as his stock delivery but was bowling much fuller here.

He was able to move the ball away from the right-hander and wasn’t easy at all to negotiate. In his very first over he had Martin Guptill edging, trying to leave and getting the bottom edge, playing and missing one that straightened on the off-stump. Though he had conceded a couple of boundaries Hardik stuck to the line and was rewarded on the last ball of his over as he induced an outside edge of Guptill’s bat and Rohit Sharma pouched it at second slip.

Umesh Yadav also kept the pressure up from his end bowling the out-swingers. Kiwi skipper Williamson was just 8 balls old on the crease and on the next ball tried to cut Yadav towards third man but the ball went straight to the fielder Amit Mishra and with that, both the Indian bowlers had tasted blood. In his next over the pacer bowled a beauty on the off-stump, it kissed Ross Taylor’s blade and landed in MS Dhoni’s waiting gloves. Taylor’s poor run on the tour continued and he was out for a golden duck.

Pandya who looked in a wonderful rhythm by then was rewarded twice with the wickets of Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi both the batsmen were caught by the same fielder Umesh who was standing in the same position at mid-off for the left-hander and mid-on for Ronchi. Anderson had batted for 14 deliveries but wasn’t allowed to play unobstructed and tried to go for a big shot over the fielder but a brilliant effort from Umesh ended his stay. Ronchi made the life of the fielder pretty easy as he lobbed a dolly towards him.

All this while opener Tom Latham was holding his end and scoring most of the runs that were updated to the team total. The first spinner introduced on the day was Kedar Jadhav who bowls off-spin. Jimmy Neesham while looking to settle down got a leading edge and gave Jadhav one of the easiest catches he would ever take. The Maharashtra player has just one wicket in his domestic one-day career bettered that on the next ball as Mitchell Santner edged one to Dhoni and he was on a hat-trick.

New Zealand were in deep trouble 7 down with just 65 runs on the board. Tim Southee walked in and hit the ball right into the hands of the third-man fielder Umesh Yadav with just 2 runs in his account but he floored it and Southee made utmost use of the life. He hit six boundaries and three sixes en route his maiden ODI half century. Meanwhile, Latham also got to his fifty and was happy to finally find some support from the other end.

The duo added 71 runs from 58 deliveries for the ninth-wicket and pushed New Zealand towards a total they could think of defending. Amit Mishra then got into the act and as the batsmen tried to go behind him gave away a few runs but also came back to dismiss Southee who hit one high in the air and Manish Pandey was pretty much in control holding that one at covers. There was little resistance for the last wicket as Mishra beat his leg-spin bowling counterpart Ish Sodhi with a googly to trap him leg before.

Latham carried his bat through having faced 98 deliveries for his 79 runs with seven boundaries and a six. New Zealand ended their inning in 43.5 overs with 190 runs on the board. When Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane walked out to chase the target wasn’t a huge but they had to make sure there was no sense of complacency as mid-range totals often prove to be tricky. They saw through the initial line of attack and were off to a decent start but in the last over of the first power play Doug Bracewell had Rohit lbw.

Rahane who had played some beautiful drives down the ground and some pulls was dismissed on 33 edging a Jimmy Neesham delivery to wicketkeeper Ronchi. Manish Pandey joined Virat Kohli and both the batsmen looked at ease at the crease but Pandey while trying to whip the ball over mid-wicket played it straight into the hands of Williamson. That is when the big man skipper MS Dhoni walked out to join his buddy Virat in the middle.

Virat continued his phenomenal form in limited-overs cricket. If the bowlers opted for the off-stump line he played the delightful cover drives, and when the ball was straighter onto his pads the writs came into play and were flicked. His biggest strength is the non-reliance on the big shots to get the chunk of the runs. He can run a couple on each delivery and get ten or 12 runs every over and at the same time has enough control on his game to hit boundaries at will.

Dhoni despite batting after quite a break looked smooth; it didn’t appear like he was out of touch and took on the Kiwi all-rounder Jimmy Neesham and hit him for a biggie and the intentions were clear, they wanted to wrap the game up and not drag it to the full length.

The Virat-Dhoni partnership took India to the verge of victory 29 runs shy of the target Dhoni was run out courtesy some communication flop and he walked back having scored 21 from 24 balls. But Kohli the mature cricketer he has been in the recent times stood there and finished things with a beautiful six to remain unbeaten on 85 and took the team home with 6 wickets and 16.5 overs in hand.

Brief Scores:

New Zealand: 190 all out in 43.5 overs (Tom Latham 79*, Tim Southee 55; Hardik Pandya 3/31, Amit Mishra 3/49)

India: 194/4 in 33.1 overs (Virat Kohli 85*)

Man of the match: Hardik Pandya