Mohammed Shami continued to challenge for India’s first XI come World Cup with another lovely display of seam bowling to set up a comfortable win for India – their first in an ODI in New Zealand since 2009 – in the opening ODI of the five-match series.
Back together for the first time since the Asia Cup final in September last year, the two wristspinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, tied the hosts in knots after Shami’s initial burst of 4-2-13-2.
Pacer Mohammed Shami on Wednesday became the fastest Indian to claim 100 wickets in One-day Internationals, reaching the mark in the opening match against New Zealand here. This was his 56th game in the 50-over format.
Kane Williamson resisted arguably the best ODI bowling line-up in the world, but he too ended up making a mistake first ball after the second drinks break, which meant New Zealand’s innings lasted only 38 overs.
If 18 for 2 was bad, 76 for 4 was dire, but Williamson – reprieved by Kedar Jadhav off Shankar when 20 – looked entirely in control.
They had denied him the third-man single with a wide slip earlier on, but Williamson was now manipulating the field really well, jumping on anything remotely short and placing the fuller balls into the gaps.
However, he kept losing partners at the other end. Henry Nicholls hit Kedar Jadhav straight to short midwicket, and Mitchell Santner walked right across to Shami, which is cardinal because he is the one man who keeps targeting the stumps.
New Zealand went into drinks at 143 for 6, this was not entirely a flat surface, and they had a glimmer of hope if Williamson could bat through the innings.
However, first ball after the break, Williamson seemed to have played a premeditated shot, looking to hit his first six of the innings by taking the man at long-on on. Having seen he was not to the pitch of this ball from Kuldeep, Williamson failed to check the shot and gave the man at long-on an easy catch.
Kuldeep then ran through the tail, with MS Dhoni calling the last wicket blow for blow. “He will defend eyes closed, you can go round the wicket and bowl the other one.”
The only thing between India and victory was the setting sun, which was in the batsmen’s eye, causing a delay of more than a half hour, and not for the first time at McLean Park where the pitches run from east to west. Post a delay of more than a half hour, India – already 10 overs into the chase – were asked to get 156 in 49 overs. As a final piece of good news, Shikhar Dhawan – averaging 20 over the last nine innings – signaled return to form with an unbeaten 75.
India 156 for 2 (Dhawan 75*) beat New Zealand 157 (Williamson 64, Kuldeep 4-39, Shami 3-19) by eight wickets (DLS method)