Talking Points: Mohammed Shami’s record, New Zealand’s gaffe and a ‘sunstrike’
Wristy business: Chahal and Kuldeep claimed 6/82 in 20 overs. © AFP

Virat Kohli’s second-ranked Indian team went up 1-0 over hosts New Zealand in the first ODI in Napier on Wednesday, chasing a D/L revised target of 156 in 34.5 overs with eight wickets in hand.

Here are five talking points from the first ODI:

1. Shami swaps roles with Bhuvneshwar

In Australia earlier this month, Mohammed Shami was overshadowed – though he bowled equally well – at the start of each ODI with Bhuvneshwar Kumar repeatedly making inroads. In Napier, the roles were reversed during the Powerplay as Shami dismissed the New Zealand openers while Bhuvneshwar bowled an economical but wicketless spell. Shami hit terrific lines immediately and bowled Martin Guptill in a wicket-maiden opening over, thus becoming the fastest Indian bowler to 100 wickets in ODIs, and then changed his angle to bowl Colin Munro.

Shami bowled an opening spell of 4-2-13-2 and then came back later to add a third.

2. India put faith in wrist-spin, New Zealand lose theirs

At the MCG last week, India dropped Kuldeep Yadav for Yuzvendra Chahal, after the former bowled his most expensive wicketless quota in 35 career ODIs. On Wednesday, the management reunited the wrist-spinning pair – who before today had taken 87 wickets in tandem across 23 ODIs – and the effect was match-winning. Chahal got Ross Taylor and Tom Latham and Kuldeep claimed 4/39, all four wickets coming in a massive spell of 4-1-13-4.

In contrast with India’s approach to drop a left-arm spinner and add another wrist-spinner, New Zealand chose to drop Ish Sodhi, the legspinner, for Mitchell Santner.

Doug Bracewell was bowled in a collapse of five wickets for 24 runs.
Doug Bracewell was bowled in a collapse of five wickets for 24 runs. © AFP

3. Sloppy Blackcaps batting negates toss advantage

Kane Williamson‘s decision to bat first on a good, hard batting deck under a blazing run seemed the right move, even factoring in the success that India’s new-ball pair had in Australia. McLean Park’s short boundaries must have been an inviting prospect, too. But after stacking up totals of 371, 319 and 364 with ease against Sri Lanka recently, New Zealand’s batting came a cropper.

The innings spanned 38 overs, in which time only Williamson reached 25. Tellingly, the New Zealand batsmen’s inability to pick leg spin was stark. Williamson had spoken before this game of the need to improve in the field, but it is the batting that was served a wake-up call by India.

4. Sunstrike halts play, not to Napier’s surprise

In one of the more unique interventions during an international cricket match – though not the first time, as this article highlights – play was interrupted due to excessive sunlight.

During the 11th over of India’s chase at McLean Park, Shikhar Dhawan could not spot a ball down the legside and immediately spoke to the umpire while pointing to the sky. It was soon revealed that Dhawan had difficulty spotting the ball owing to the resulting glare, and the match was then put on hold as the players and match officials waited for the sun light to diminish.

This occurrence is apparently not uncommon in Napier, the primary export sea port for north-eastern New Zealand. A domestic T20 match was held up last week on account of harsh sunlight owing to the time where the sun sets over the top of the stand McLean Park. Locally, this is termed a “sunstrike”.

Interested in reading about odd reasons for cricket games being suspended? Read this, and have a laugh.

Shikhar Dhawan's vision was obstructed by sunlight at McLean Park.
Shikhar Dhawan’s vision was obstructed by sunlight at McLean Park. © AFP

5. Dhawan shrugs off lean run

Dhawan had not reached 50 in ODIs since September, during which time his average slumped to 20.22 with a best of 38. Today, he roared back with a sheet-anchor innings of 75 not out from 103 balls, accentuated with six fours. While far from his fluent best, Dhawan measured the chase well and ensured he remained not out, ending on a score that should have given him plenty of confidence with just nine ODIs left for India before the World Cup.