India began their New Zealand series with a massive win at Napier in the first ODI, bowling out the hosts for a measly 157 and chasing down the target in less than 35 overs with eight wickets in hand. Opting to bat first, the Kiwis were pegged back by Mohammed Shami early on and later the spin twins shared six wickets among them to decimate the hosts.
Here's our report card from the first ODI at Napier.
Shami was the chief architect behind New Zealand's collapse on Wednesday, dismissing their openers early with extravagant seam movement and striking again later in his second spell to remove Mitchell Santner just as the Kiwis were looking to climb out of the abyss. Shami's burst allowed the Indian spinners to have a go at the middle-order early on. After a long absence from the white-ball cricket, Shami is quickly turning out to be the X factor for India with the ball.
Dhawan had not cross the fifty-run mark in ODIs since his ton against Pakistan in the Asia Cup in Dubai before the Napier ODI but scored 75 not out off 103 balls in the first match of the series. He kept throwing away his wicket despite getting good starts in the Windies and Australia ODI series and needed a confidence-booster early on in the New Zealand series. With a low target, Dhawan got into groove early and completed a comfortable half-century, playing a risk-free innings.
If Yuzvendra Chahal started the collapse, Kuldeep carried it forward by dismissing Kane Williamson and Doug Bracewell in the same over and ensuring that New Zealand would not be able to reach a total of respectability. Kuldeep finished with figures of 4/39 and ran through the tail yet again.
Williamson was described as New Zealand's player to watch out for by Virat Kohli and his judgement proved to be just perfect when the much acclaimed Kiwi skipper steadied the innings after the top-order collapse. Williamson was calculative with his stroke play and batted as per the demands of the match situation. He was dismissed by Kuldeep with the batsman playing an uncharacteristic shot, looking to up the ante, given the circumstances. Williamson scored 64 off 81 balls.
Chahal varied his pace effectively on a wicket where the ball was stopping and ensured the Kiwi batsmen were always cautious coming down the pitch against him. By shortening his length and flighting the ball more, he forced Ross Taylor and Tom Latham - two of New Zealand's best players of spin - to give a catch back to him. Chahal, after a superb six-fer against Australia in the series decider, was clever with his variations on the Napier wicket, although in the end he was yet again overshadowed by Kuldeep.
Kohli was in sublime form and made the Kiwis pay with some pristine shots early on in his innings. He mostly played second-fiddle to Dhawan and was also once saved by DRS after he was wrongly adjudged LBW by the on field umpire. The chase master looked comfortable at Napier and with a low target in front of him, Kohli did not even had to step up his game. However, he lost his wicket before India reached the target.
Boult is New Zealand's highest wicket-taker since the Champions Trophy but with the Kiwis needing early breakthroughs after a disastrous batting performance, the seamer failed to create enough chances. He was tidy with his lines and kept India's openers silent in a four-over opening spell. He was brought back into the attack in search of wickets but India had the leeway to play him out safely given the low target.
A fringe player in the squad, Bracewell was picked over Colin de Grandhomme at Napier and justified the call in a spell where he moved the ball around and sent back Rohit Sharma. Bracewell was unlucky to not add Dhawan's wicket as Latham dropped a catch. He also showed good intent with the bat in a recent T20I against Sri Lanka and it is these kind of all-round performances that the Kiwis seek from their lower-order.
Bhuvneshwar was tidy with the new ball and proved to be the perfect foil for Shami. He went wicket-less in his five-over spell as Shami dismissed the openers and this is something which might come back to bite the Meerut seamer. Bhuvneshwar would like to show that he can take charge of the bowling attack in Bumrah's absence, something he has failed to do in ODIs. With Shami in red-hot form, Bhuvneshwar could be forced to sit out when Bumrah returns and if India feel like to fit in the two wrist spinners.
Jadhav was effective with the ball as he gave little room to the Kiwi batsmen and picked up the key wicket of Henry Nicholls. The slingy off-spinner was tidy as always and played the supporting role perfectly. He put down a fairly easy catch offered by Williamson off Vijay Shankar and would look to avoid a repeat of it in future. Jadhav wasn't required with the bat but will have a major role to play as the series progresses.
Ferguson has been a strike bowler for Kiwis in this format and was rightly chosen over Matt Henry for Napier. His searing pace and late movement has troubled most teams but against a solid batting line-up, Ferguson failed to find his rhythm. He was thrashed by Kohli and Dhawan, with his first four overs costing 27 runs including five boundaries. He sent back Kohli to improve his figures a touch and ended with 1/41.
Coming in as the first change bowler, Shankar was tidy and nearly accounted for the wicket of Williamson, only for Jadhav to deny him his maiden ODI wicket with a drop catch. He wasn't required with the bat but will hope to impress with every opportunity that comes his way.
Santner's value as an all-rounder and containing bowler in this New Zealand line-up cannot be emphasised enough. The left-arm spinner was stringent and gave away just 32 in his seven overs but today the Kiwis needed wickets from him and that, however, did not materialise. He could not make much of an impact with the bat either.
Taylor came into the series with a whopping average of 87.77 since the Champions Trophy in 2017 and as one of New Zealand's most talked about players with 10 fifty-plus scores in his last 12 games. After the hosts lost two wickets upfront, Taylor was expected to shore up things and he did so with a composed start where he took 11 balls to get off the mark. However, on 24, he was flummoxed by some smart bowling from Chahal who cleverly varied his pace and had him caught and bowled to dent the Black Caps further.
Rohit was circumspect as the ball moved about a bit early on and took his time to read the wicket. A mistimed four aside, he wasn't in the best of touches and soon after the supper break edged Bracewell to the lone slip fielder.
Despite the pitch offering movement, Southee wasn't as effective as Kiwis wanted him to be and leaked runs in his spell that went at a rate of 5.3. Southee nearly trapped Kohli in front with the umpire upholding the lbw appeal but DRS saved India skipper as replays showed there was an inside edge. Southee will want to put up more compelling performances with the ball.
Latham was superb for the hosts when they last played India in India, handling the spinners in particular with ease. However, soon after calmly hoisting Chahal over the infield through mid-wicket for four, Latham played one right back to him. His wicket broke the promising stand between Williamson and him and gave India an opportunity to have a go at New Zealand's lower middle-order fairly early.
One of the better New Zealand batsmen down the order in recent times, Henry Nicholls appeared more at ease on a wicket where the ball was stopping on the batsmen than some of his peers but found Kuldeep pulling off a stunning catch off Jadhav to bring an abrupt end to his innings. He should remain a vital cog in New Zealand's batting line-up in the series.
Much like Aaron Finch, Guptill tends to take a big stride forward and it leaves him vulnerable to the ball coming back in. Shami exploited this weakness early at Napier as he generated good seam movement off the surface and forced the opener to chop back onto the stumps while moving forward in defence. Openers have a small shelf life in this part of the world but Guptill fell way too early for New Zealand's liking.
Munro was tentative early on before a characteristic swipe for four over the infield and a drive over mid-off for four got him into groove. A dangerous batsmen once he gets his elements right, Munro was undone by Shami switching around the wicket. The first ball after the switch, Munro looked to drive, ignoring the seam movement on offer and found his stumps in a mess.
*MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu were not rated owing to their minimum role in the match.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor
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