Virat Kohli surpassed Ricky Ponting's tally of hundreds in ODIs    AFP
Virat Kohli surpassed Ricky Ponting’s tally of hundreds in ODIs AFP

At his idol Sachin Tedulkar’s home ground and in his 200th ODI, Virat Kohli scored his 31st hundred in the format, surpassing Ricky Ponting’s tally of hundreds. And it is needless to say that he is only behind Tendulkar in the list of most ODI hundreds. Enough digressing, though. We will sing Kohli’s praises at some other time. This is also about the first ODI between India and New Zealand at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Riding on Kohli’s gem of an innings, India set up 281-run target for the visitors. Here’s how the events unfolded this afternoon, chronologically:

Rohit Sharma batted as if something would befall him, that he was running out of time. His consecutive sixes off Tim Southee cleared deep fine-leg by a whisker. Rohit simply refused to keep the ball down. Perhaps he knows the lengths of Wankhede boundaries, his home ground, better than anyone. He was ready to take risks, and exactly that seemed to be India s game plan against New Zealand s new-ball bowlers: attack before they find confidence.

Before that, in the first over, Shikhar Dhawan had played a lovely drive on the off-side. It had his signature timing etched on it. At the receiving end was Southee. Not that he bowled wrong lengths, but the Indians were in a mood to shred New Zealand to pieces on a quick Wankhede wicket.

The race was not yet lost. There also was the southpaw Trent Boult, someone who Rohit fears. And why not? Rohit has always faced troubles against late in-dippers, Boult s lethal ammunition. However, that removed Dhawan first. Bouncing an extra inch, he was in no position to play it on the up. Tom Latham took a regulation catch.

After hitting those lucky sixes off Southee, Rohit thought he would emulate the same against Boult. And what is better than aggression to get over fear? Rohit shimmied down to heave a full-length delivery. The ball hurried onto him and dissected his defence. He was fortunate that it missed the stumps. But Boult made sure he aims at the timber thereafter. This time Rohit stayed in his crease and tried to create a reminiscence of that ugly slog. He missed it again, and Boult took the stumps apart: Rohit 0 Boult 1.

Kedar Jadhav did well to survive 25 deliveries, but his soft dismissal only worsened India’s problems. Then came Dinesh Karthik. Playing an international match at home after 7 years, Karthik scored a resolute 37. More importantly, he added 73 runs with captain Kohli.

All the same, New Zealand bounced back in the game, getting rid of Karthik and MS Dhoni just before death overs. Come to think of it, it was the right time for Pandya to unleash his demon. Fortunate was he that Kane Williamson pitted spinner Mitchell Santner against him. The very first ball, an over-pitched delivery, went soaring over the boundary line. That being said, Kohli had entered 90s and all eyes were on him.

There was no way New Zealand could kept Kohli off strike. Pandya was well aware of Kohli’s heroics. He rotated the strike, and let the master attain another high.

India, however, did not stop further annihilating the New Zealanders. After Pandya walked back, Kohli fired on all cylinders; and when the captain perished, Bhuvneshwar Kumar went on a rampage and blasted 26 runs off a mere 15 runs, taking India to competitive score.

Brief scores:

India 280 for 8 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 121 ; Trent Boult 4 for 35) vs New Zealand

Full scorecard