Virat Kohli’s exhilarating hundred went in vain as New Zealand staged a dramatic turnaround to pull off a thrilling 24-run win in the first cricket one-dayer against India to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series here today.
Set a formidable target of 293, India seemed on track for a facile win with Kohli (123 off 110 balls) anchoring the chase with his 18th ODI century before pacer Mitchell McClenaghan’s three-wicket burst 11 balls changed the complexion of the game completely.
From a comfortable 224 for five, the Indians were all out for 268 in 48.4 overs with McClenaghan being the wrecker-in-chief with a match haul of 4/68.
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Earlier, electing to bowl after winning the toss, India’s inconsistent bowling effort helped New Zealand pile up 292 for seven.
For the Kiwis, apart McClenaghan, Corey Anderson shone bright with an all-round effort, scoring 68 runs off 40 deliveries before knocking off two wickets in his 10 overs of medium pace bowling.
Tim Southee (1-43 in 9.4 overs) and Adam Milne (1-40 in 7.3 overs) gave Anderson good support, even as the latter walked off mid-way in the 41st over with a side-strain.
After being put in to bat, half-centuries from Anderson, Kane Williamson (71) and Ross Taylor (55) helped the hosts reach 292/7 in their allotted 50 overs.
However, the brightest star of the match ended up in the losing side.
Kohli, who scored his a first hundred in a losing cause while chasing, found no support from other batsmen, none of who managed to reach even the 50-run mark.
In fact, the first wicket came before the first boundary in this innings, as Rohit failed to rotate the strike and came under pressure to score, holing out to Southee off a short ball from McClenaghan in the sixth over. He scored only 3 runs off 23 balls.
Kohli came to the crease and got off the mark with a signature cover drive, the first four for India on the 29th ball of the innings.
Along with Dhawan, he put on 58 runs for the second wicket as the two batsmen tried to build a platform from which to launch the chase.
The runs were coming in a trickle and the first 10 overs yielded only 43. India’s 50 came up in the 12th over, while their 50-partnership came four overs later.
Dhawan tried to be the more aggressive of the two, but his timing was off as he could only muster a strike-rate of 69.56. His dismissal in the 19th over reflected as much, a mistimed pull off a short ball from Anderson. It was a huge blow for the team as the partnership was developing well at that time.
On 15 not out, Dhawan had been given a life in the ninth over, when Anderson, at square leg, managed to only get a hand on a high pull shot.
But the Indian failed to capitalise and was finally out for 32 runs off 46 balls. He hit three fours. It resulted in two more quick wickets with Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina back in the hut within ten overs.
Rahane (7) was out to a superb one-handed catch by Nathan McCullum. The ball, played towards mid-off, seemed to dip before the off-spinner caught it, leaving the batsman shocked.
Raina added 45 runs with Kohli for the fourth wicket and their runs came in good time at a run-rate of 6.14. But even so, the asking run-rate was always climbing higher and trouble resurfaced when Raina was out, attempting a loose pull-shot like Dhawan, off Milne. He scored 18 runs off 22 balls, with two fours.
At the other end, however, Kohli continued unfazed. He had come to the crease to pull off this chase and he went about the job not caring about the dismissals too much.
In Raina’s company, in the 26th over, he had brought up his half-century off 58 balls, hitting four fours and one six. But after the double blows in the middle overs, he settled down with skipper Dhoni to try and dig India out of the hole.
The Indian captain scored 40 runs off only 46 balls, with two fours and two sixes. More importantly, he rotated the strike well with Kohli as the two put up 95 runs for the fifth wicket in just 85 balls.
In the 38th over, Kohli reached his 18th ODI hundred, off 94 balls with 10 fours and a six. He celebrated with joy as the chase looked set. They accelerated with a plan in mind as 51 runs came off the second powerplay without any loss of wickets.
But the turning point came when Dhoni was out caught behind in the 43rd over, off McClenaghan. Three balls later, he removed Ravindra Jadeja (0), also caught behind fending a rising delivery.
Kohli still didn’t give up, hitting boundaries at will, but he was finally out in the 45th over, caught sharply by Jesse Ryder, who had earlier misjudged a skier from Kohli when he was on 95, at cover.
In the next over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was run-out for 6 runs. R Ashwin (12 runs) was out to Kane Williamson, who completed Milne’s 41st over after he had walked off with a side strain.
The Indian innings came to an end when Southee bowled Ishant Sharma (5). Mohammad Shami was unbeaten on 7 runs.
Earlier in the day, Corey Anderson hit 68 off 40 balls, his first ODI half-century, to take New Zealand to 292/7 in their allotted fifty overs. This was after Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor put on 121 runs for the third wicket.
Mohammad Shami was the most successful bowler for the visitors, finishing with 4-55 from nine overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-38), Ishant Sharma (1-72) and Ravindra Jadeja (1-61) were the other wicket-takers, while R Ashwin (0-52) and Virat Kohli (0-13) finished wicket-less.
Taylor and Williamson together flayed the Indian bowling in the middle overs. The two batsmen put on a hundred-plus stand for the third wicket during which they amply punished the two spinners, Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Taylor completed 4000 ODI runs in 121 innings, at the personal score of 15 not out, becoming the second-quickest Kiwi batsman after Nathan Astle (120 innings) to do so. In the 23rd over of the innings, Williamson brought up his seventh ODI half-century, off 66 balls and hitting five fours.
Eventually Taylor edged to Dhoni in the 37th over off Shami, becoming the Indian skipper’s 300th ODI victim.
Dhoni is the first Indian wicket-keeper to breach this mark, in 239 matches, and the fourth overall after Australia’s Adam Gilchrist (472 dismissals in 287 matches), Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara (424 dismissals in 362 matches) and South Africa’s Mark Boucher (424 dismissals in 295 matches).
Taylor was the only batsman to fall in the second powerplay as Brendon McCullum and Corey Anderson took 41 runs off those five overs.