Virat Kohli struck his 26th ODI ton, ably supported by MS Dhoni, to script yet another masterful innings in a chase to take India to a 2-1 lead in the ODI series against New Zealand today. Earlier, the Kiwis had ended their innings with a flourish thanks to Jimmy Neesham to post a total of 285.
In the last game, New Zealand managed to break their winless run finally, but their losing streak with tosses continued yet again today. On a Mohali track, which seemed like a batting beauty, MS Dhoni forced the Kiwis to bat first.
Kiwis fail to capitalize on good start
New Zealand started their innings on a steady note. While Tom Latham seemed composed at one end, danger man Martin Guptill hit Hardik Pandya for a six over his head to make his intent clear. But, his joy didn’t last for long as Umesh Yadav trapped him in front of the stumps for 27 to give India its first scalp. Last match centurion Kane Williamson hit three fours, but it took only a single ball from Kedar Jadhav to send him back to the pavilion. A slow, loopy delivery from the part-time offie deceived the Kiwi skipper for a score of 22.
However, Tom Latham carried his impressive form forward, and he got good support from veteran Ross Taylor who has been anonymous so far in the tour. Both rotated the strike beautifully and found the fence at regular intervals. They huffed and puffed their way to set the base for a big score, but Amit Mishra manages the breakthrough. He bowled a gem of a delivery luring Taylor to come down the track, but the batsman missed the line of the ball and MSD did the rest. He had made 44 runs off 57 deliveries.
With the Kiwi batsmen trying to slog more, MSD placed a long-off and a widish mid-off to trap them. It worked as Kedar Jadhav took the prized scalp of Corey Anderson with a full-toss delivery, which was safely gobbled up by Ajinkya Rahane at mid-off. Jadhav soon took the wicket of Tom Latham, who scored his sixth half-century of the tour to leave the Blackcaps in tatters.
The little dynamite from Maharashtra now has six International wickets in International cricket despite originally being a wicket-keeper batsman.
Neesham’s pyrotechnics propel Kiwis to a good total
Meanwhile, the visitors slumped from 153/2 to 199/8 but then the Jimmy Neesham show began. The Auckland-born all-rounder was originally brought into the team as a replacement for Anton Devrich, but has showed his batting prowess. Despite losing the most parts of the tour due to injury, Neesham partnered Matt Henry and tonked the Indian bowlers to submission. The duo added 84 runs for the ninth wicket to take New Zealand to a respectable total. But, once Neesham got out to Umesh Yadav scoring 57 runs, Bumrah disturbed the furniture of Trent Boult to bring the curtains quickly down on New Zealand’s innings for 285.
Virat-Dhoni sizzle after Rahane-Rohit fizzle
Mohali track has traditionally been a batting beauty for the teams batting second thanks to the excessive dew in the evening. But, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma couldn’t extract any benefit out of it as Rahane went for a half-hearted drive off an out-swinger and perished to Matt Henry for 5. Although Rohit looked a tad positive, a slower ball from Tim Southee did the job for the Kiwi catching him plumb in front.
With the score at 41/2, Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted himself up the order to partner his deputy Virat Kohli. Both complemented each other taking turns with one taking on the bowlers while the other chose the back seat.
Dhoni, who was in a desperate search to find his Midas touch, provided a glimpse of why he cannot be written off anytime soon. He hit Mitchel Santner over long-off fence to bring his 9.000 ODI runs and in the process became the sixth fastest batsman in the world to get to the landmark.
Both continued their assault on the Kiwi bowlers with Virat Kohli completing his customary fifty in the 20th over. Dhoni too brought up his fifty by tucking Matt Henry to backward square leg. It was the first fifty for the Indian skipper after his last one against South Africa in Indore last year.
Both added 151 runs for the third wicket, but Dhoni chased an away-going delivery unnecessarily to give a simple catch to Ross Taylor. His innings of 80 runs was studded with six fours and three hits over the rope.
Kohli leads to the finish - Usual, usual
Meanwhile, Kohli continued on despite Dhoni’s dismissal and brought up his 26th ODI century with Manish Pandey for company. Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson put a cover and an extra-cover along with a point to put pressure over Virat Kohli, but all his ploys wouldn’t work on the night as Virat kept finding the gap with ease. Pandey, who has been touted to fill the big shoes of MSD as the next potential finisher, provided impetus to the partnersship as India ambled towards the target.
With 23 runs needed off last 18 balls, Kohli smashed Trent Boult for three fours and a six to garner 22 runs off the over. Manish Pandey then finished the proceedings with a whack to long on to take India past the target.