Debutant Hardik Pandya and the ever-solid Virat Kohli ensured India’s domination over New Zealand extended to the limited-overs format as well.
While Pandya was on target with three wickets, ripping apart the Kiwis’ top order, Kohli anchored the innings and finished the job with a maximum to seal India’s six-wicket win here on Sunday.
New Zealand were hoping to put up a fight but their plans lay in tatters as pacers Umesh Yadav and Pandya, who opened the bowling from the other end, ripped through the batting to leave them reeling at 65 for seven in 18.4 overs.
A score of 190 was never going to be challenging but India did stumble when Rohit Sharma (12) and Ajinkya Rahane (33) added 49 for the first wicket and threw away the good start. After the soft dismissal of Manish Pandey (17), hopes of the Kiwis to put the hosts under pressure were dashed with skipper MS Dhoni and Kohli stitching 60 runs in less than 10 overs.
Kohli, dropped by Tim Southee soon after reaching fifty, treated the sparsely-filled stadium with his trademark cover drives as he raced to an unbeaten 85.
Dhoni (21) was out in a mix-up with Kohli while trying to steal a quick single, but by then India had already knocked off 162 off the target. Kohli paced his innings to perfection, sealing the win with a six off Ish Sodhi.
Southee-Latham to the rescue
It seemed India were on their way to a comprehensive win, something the skipper would have liked. The pitch had a bit of juice for the pacers with some variable bounce. Umesh and Pandya made good use of the conditions to trouble opener Martin Guptill. Pandya had the last laugh when the Kiwi opener nicked one to Rohit at second slip. Umesh, at the other end, accounted for the big wicket of skipper Kane Williamson, who slashed hard to third man.
Soon after, Umesh had Ross Taylor caught behind for naught and the Kiwi innings was in disarray. Kedar Jadhav, introduced from the College End, ahead of Amit Mishra and Axar Patel, struck twice by accounting for Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner.
But thereafter, the hosts let the Black Caps off the hook. A dropped catch of Southee by Umesh, when he was on two, gave the visitors some much-needed breathing space.
Southee went after the bowling and also gave support to opener Tom Latham, who till then had seen his teammates throw away their wickets. The 71-run partnership, which included some lusty hitting, gave the side an outside chance.
Southee (55), who scored his maiden half-century, dispatched Patel for a massive six, which landed on the stadium’s roof. Latham, who was the lone star in the Test series, used the sweep shot to good effect and remained unbeaten on 79.