Shrugging off the T20 defeats,India bounced back with a solid batting display to spank New Zealand by 53 runs on the basis of Duckworth-Lewis method in the rain-marred first cricket one-dayer and take 1-0 lead in the five-match series in Napier on Tuesday.
India rode on skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s unbeaten 84 and blistering half-centuries by Virender Sehwag (77) and Suresh Raina (66) to rattle up 273 for 4 in 38 overs and then put up a disciplined bowling performance to prevent the Kiwis from upstaging them.
Rain-interruptions added to the woes of New Zealand,who were forced to chase a stiff target of 216 from 28 overs when the drizzle halted play for the second time in the match.
The Kiwis could manage just 162 for nine. They were 111 in 20.5 overs while chasing original 274 from 38 overs when play was suspended and on the resumption the Kiwis were left with a daunting task of scoring 105 runs off 7.1 overs.
After the first rain break,the match was reduced to 38 overs per side. Martin Guptill (64) and Ross Taylor (31) scored the bulk of the runs for the hosts. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (3/27) and paceman Praveen Kumar (2/28) shone with the ball for India. India were on top of their game today as their batting,despite a lull in the middle overs was awesome,with Suresh Raina providing the thrust with a 39-ball 66.
Their bowling was sharp and disciplined,with Praveen Kumar removing the wind out of the Kiwi sail with two crippling blows at the start,and Harbhajan Singh scything through the latter order.
The Blackcaps did well to recover from a staggering start through Guptill and Taylor but the asking rate was always way too high to be achieved under lights.
Requiring a stifling 105 off 43,they lost wickets in a trice as Harbhajan Singh produced a brilliant spell and came close to getting a hat-trick in the 24th over.
New Zealand lost four wickets in five balls to capitulate to their worst defeat in the season. Apart from Raina,who savaged the Kiwi attack with casual disdain Sehwag,Dhoni also contributed to India’s cause. Sachin Tendulkar (20) and Yusuf Pathan (20 not out) also chipped in their mite.
Earlier,a 141-minute rain-break had little effect on Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar as the celebrated openers went about caning the Kiwi pace attack without much ado.
India were cruising along at 69 for no loss in the tenth over when Tendulkar,venturing to work the ball to third man,nicked Ian Butler to Brendon McCullum.
If runs had cascaded like the Brahmaputra in spate at the start,it began to dry up in the middle overs (13 to 18) as Daniel Vettori and Butler bottled up Sehwag and Dhoni.
Sehwag braved to break out of the kiwi shackles,only to watch Ross Taylor produce an outstanding catch at short covers off Vettori.
India continued to huff and puff as Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh struggled to work the ball off the square. Yuvraj,who searched for runs as much as he scanned the ground for his lost chain before the game,was eventually put out of his misery by Guptill,who rifled in his return from short-wicket to Vettori,as he sought to take a second run.
Raina then changed the complexion of the match for the visitors. His fiery innings was full of energy and boundaries. The youngster carted the ball to the all parts of the park,hoisting Vettori and Kyle Mills twice each into the stands.
Raina’s belligerence seemed to influence Dhoni,who until then had curbed his instinct to attack (obviously to ensure that a top order batsman bats through the innings).
As the end overs ebbed,Dhoni broke loose to the delight of the Indian spectators who had driven down from Auckland and Wellington to watch their demi-gods in action.