Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson are pivotal for India and New Zealand. If they fail, their teams struggle. And if they click, it carries their team to victory.
With all focus on New Zealand’s faltering batting unit, Williamson showed his class at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Thursday, scoring his eighth ODI century (118) to take New Zealand to a fighting total 242, and eventually an exciting six-run win in the second match to level the series 1-1.
Kohli failed and India’s batting struggled as they lost, handing New Zealand their first ODI victory over India on their home turf since Cuttack, 2003.
An entertaining 49-run stand for the eighth wicket between Hardik Pandya (36 off 32) and Umesh Yadav brought India back into the game. Pandya, Man-of-the-Match on debut for his bowling in Dharamsala, though faltered near the finish. Like all other Indian dismissals, Pandya too threw his wicket away.
At Dharamsala, Kohli hit a match-winning 85 not out. But at his home ground, when every eye was focused on him, Kohli disappointed.
AS IT HAPPENED: New Zealand defeat India by 6 runs to level series 1-1
After India were tottering at 72/4 on a wicket where shot-making wasn’t easy, MS Dhoni added 66 with Kedar Jadhav for the fifth wicket. With Axar Patel too, Dhoni looked calm but was left frustrated as he missed an Anton Devcich delivery. Soon after, Tim Southee showed excellent reflexes to take a return catch.
The day belonged to Williamson. At Dharamsala, Williamson failed and the Kiwis were bundled out for 190
At Kotla, Williamson was in his elements and made sure he played late. Though he was hit on the pads a couple of times by Jasprit Bumrah, the way he applied alongside Latham ensured New Zealand were headed for a big score.
Williamson pierced the gaps and his best came after the first ten overs as he charged against spinners and made sure he played on their minds. The Kotla was a good batting surface but became slow as the match progressed. Williamson was patient and kept nurdling the strike.
Against the spinners, he targeted the on-side to lay the platform. Boundaries weren’t easy to come but he was aware that running hard between wickets was the only way to put the Indians under pressure.
Williamson’s role became crucial after Latham was out in the 21st over. In his 118, he ran 41 singles, six doubles and hit 14 fours. Despite feeling dehydrated, he kept going.
Williamson knew a score of 260 could be competitive. After Ross Taylor fell, Corey Anderson too failed to carry on, but still added 46 with the skipper. But Amit Mishra removed the all-rounder and Williamson to restrict the total.
Williamson’s effort was complemented by good bowling and some extraordinary fielding, which proved the difference in the end.