Virat Kohli scored 123 © Getty Images
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jan 19, 2014
In the face of a good total, you can put your money on Virat Kohli to do the job, but his 18th One-Day International (ODI) ton is his first hundred in a defeat as New Zealand beat India by 24 runs at Napier. It was a good innings by Kohli, but Corey Anderson‘s all-round contribution played a pivotal role in New Zealand’s victory.
At the half-way stage, India would have fancied their chances while chasing 293, but Rohit Sharma struggled early on and was dismissed for three off 23 balls. Kohli walked in and looked in good touch instantly as he beautifully drove Mitch McClenaghan through the off-side for a four. As the overs progressed, Shikhar Dhawan also got into his stride and started attacking. He chose to pull a few short ones and could work them away with conviction.
However, it was that attacking instinct that got the better of Dhawan as a delivery from Corey Anderson climbed onto him quicker than he expected and he ended up offering a catch at square-leg. A few runs later, Ajinkya Rahane checked his shot off Anderson and was brilliantly caught by Nathan McCullum at mid-off.
Suresh Raina was peppered by the short deliveries from the outset. Even the medium-pacer Anderson troubled him with a few short deliveries. He did manage to control a few and work them away to the leg-side, but then Adam Milne bounced him out as Raina spooned a catch to fine-leg.
It was then that Dhoni entered the stage and constructed a good partnership with Kohli. Initially, they were slow, but once the batting powerplay was taken at the end of 34 overs, both batsmen unleashed their fury. Kohli flicked with power and drove with authority as he made his way to a ton. Meanwhile, Dhoni showed all his power as he smashed two sixes down the ground.
Though India needed 69 off 46 balls one still backed them given the form the two batsmen were in. However, McClenaghan came back and bounced Dhoni out with one that climbed on him. Two deliveries later, Ravindra Jadeja edged to the wicketkeeper and New Zealand were back in the game.
Kohli continued though. He smashed Nathan McCullum for a six and then took on McClenaghan as well. However, he then spooned a full toss straight to cover and walked back disappointed. Bhuvneshwar Kumar essayed a few good strokes, but was run-out soon. Ashwin was the last hope, but once he holed out to the deep in the 48th over, the game was gone.
Earlier, a late surge powered New Zealand to 292. There were two contrasting approaches on show during the innings which ultimately helped them put up their eventual total: while the top-order setup the platform after a few quick wickets, the lower order built on that and propelled New Zealand in the slog overs.
In sunny conditions at McLean Park, Napier, Indian skipper Dhoni won the toss and chose to bowl. India went into the game with an expected combination; the set top seven, with Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar and Mohammed Shami forming the pace attack.
Early in the innings, Jesse Ryder threatened to take charge. He has fancied the Indian bowling in the past and when he literally swatted Bhuvneshwar over square-leg for six. Later, Shami was welcomed with a similar shot for four and was then carted through extra-cover with all power. But, Ryder’s lack of footwork got the better of him as Shami bowled him through the gate with one that held its line.
Martin Guptill had a stellar time early in 2013, but since that innings of 186 not out, his form has dropped. He lasted 23 balls in the centre and in an attempt to force the issue, he edged one to Ashwin to first-slip.
It was then that Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson came together. They took their time, surveyed the conditions early on and attacked only when there was an opportunity. Williamson was a delight to watch as he eased into his strokes and held his balance at the crease.
There was a mix of caution and aggression from the two batsmen. Taylor’s innings was uncharacteristic. In his innings of 55, he struck only one four. It was that patience that helped New Zealand recover and Williamson was the more aggressive of the two.
The 131-run stand finally came to an end in the 33rd over when Williamson spooned a catch to cover off Ravindra Jadeja. Taylor fell soon after his fifty as he chased one off Shami and was caught by Dhoni, which was the wicketkeeper’s 300th dismissal in ODIs.
At 171 for four in the 37th over, the platform had been laid for the Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi to smash it around. And didn’t they do it in some style!
While McCullum was dismissed for a quick 30, Ronchi and Anderson tormented the Indian bowlers. If Anderson’s fastest ODI ton wasn’t enough for him to get an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract, his exhibition on Sunday would make a real impression given the fact that the talent scouts may have been glued to the screens.
Anderson can hit it a mile with all brute strength. Ishant stuck to his typical back-of-a-length approach and was punished as Anderson carted him on the roof at square-leg. Shami was also dispatched over mid-wicket for an even bigger six.
Watching Anderson smash it at one end, a batsman of Ronchi’s nature wasn’t going to keep quiet. Targetting the short square boundaries, Rochi was on his knees to Jadeja and peppered the mid-wicket stands with two maximums.
Anderson got to his fifty off only 31 balls and his cricketing stakes are certainly on the rise. Rochi too did his reputation no harm, although, one may say he played second fiddle to the budding star. And, he kept smashing it around as Ishant was nonchalantly carted over mid-wicket for another maximum.
As far as the Indian bowling is concerned, Bhuvneshwar was the pick of the bowlers. He bowled in the right channels and accounted for the wicket of McCullum. Ishant struggled yet again, with the spinners also finding it tough to contain the batsmen.
New Zealand 292 for 7 in 50 overs (Kane Williamson 71, Ross Taylor 55, Corey Anderson 68*; Mohammed Shami 4 for 55) beat India 268 in 48.4 overs (Virat Kohli 123; Mitchell McClenaghan 4 for 68) by 24 runs.
Man of the Match: Corey Anderson.