Guwahati, Nov. 28: New Zealand were already on the back foot when it was announced ahead of the opening one-dayer against India here that skipper Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum would be sitting out the game. Virat Kohli then took over, his authoritative 105 steering India to a testing total that in turn set up what was a comfortable 40-run win for Gautam Gambhir’s men here on the day.
Stand-in captain Ross Taylor made the right decision in fielding first keeping in mind the early morning conditions, but his bowlers disappointed, allowing India to get off to a solid start before Kohli’s timely hundred (104b, 10×4) took the total to 276 before the innings folded in 49 overs.
In reply, the Kiwis did start on a steady note but were undone by injudicious strokeplay as the hosts coasted home with 28 balls to take a vital lead in the five-match series.
Losing openers Jamie How and Martin Guptill inside the first 10 overs put Taylor (66) and Kane Williamson under pressure as the pair needed to focus on consolidation first.
With the required rate creeping up to around seven, Taylor decided to have a go at the bowling, greeting Yusuf Pathan with consecutive sixes in the 23rd over. The two were very much on their way to regaining the momentum for New Zealand adding 67 for the third wicket before Yuvraj Singh (3/43) removed Williamson.
It was an all-round effort from Yuvraj who after scoring a cautious 42, took three wickets. In fact, he made good use of the track that became slower as the game progressed. Seasoned campaigner Scott Styris too fell to Yuvraj who ended after picking up Daryll Tuffey, who for reasons unknown was promoted up the order.
With pressure mounting, Taylor mistimed a sweep that was safely pouched by Munaf Patel off Ravichandran Ashwin. The match was all but over before Kyle Mills (32) and Nathan McCullum (35) gave the visitors a glimmer of hope with their 67-run partnership for the ninth wicket.
That however, was more about delaying the inevitable as the New Zealand couldn’t go beyond 236.
As for India, the level of Kohli’s consistency only implies the arrival of a new force in the batting line-up – a force capable of holding the fort at one end and at the same time, launching into the opposition when it matters.
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