India went 1-0 up in the five-match ODI Series against New Zealand by winning the first ODI at Guwahati by 40 runs. Thanks to Virat Kohli’s 4th ODI Century, India put up an impressive total of 276 which was too good for the Kiwi batting on a dry Nehru Stadium which provided enough assistance for the spinners.
The crucial toss was won by Ross Taylor, the acting New Zealand Skipper in the absence of Daniel Vettori who was resting from a niggle. The Kiwis also went without the in-form Brendon McCullum. India had as such picked a relatively weak squad and there was an ODI Debut for Bengal Wicket Keeper – Wriddhiman Saha. Taylor asked India to bat first considering the early 8:30 AM start which the seam and swing bowlers can exploit to the fullest.
Interestingly, India didn’t lose any early wickets and their openers – Murali Vijay and Gautam Gambhir turned the heat on the bowlers with their attacking strokeplay. However, the two openers failed to capitalize on their own starts to fall for moderate 30s. Vijay (29 from 32 balls with 5 fours) was the first to go in the 8th over when he got a leading edge off an attempted big shot off Tuffey which was caught behind. Gambhir lasted a little longer, scoring a run-a-ball 38 with 6 fours before he flayed a wide delivery from McKay to Jamie How at point who leaped up to take a superb catch in the 16th over.
It was a consolidation work in progress when Yuvraj joined Virat Kohli with India at 92 for 2. The hosts nicely moved towards 180 in the 35th over until Yuvraj Singh (42 from 64 balls with 7 fours) too failed to convert his start into a bigger score as he was forced to edge a drive off a Tuffey outswinger to the keeper. Kohli kept things going with a 40-run stand with Suresh Raina who got out after a 18-ball 13 miscuing Kyle Mills to long off during the batting powerplay.
Virat Kohli fell at the end of the 44th over slapping a slower bouncer from McKay to extra covers having registered a solid fourth ODI century. Kohli stroked 105 in 104 balls with 10 fours while leaving India well placed at 250 for 5. The stage was set up for a blistering finish from Yusuf Pathan but he kept on losing partners at the other end in a hurry.
Andy McKay got the ball to reverse swing beautifully while at the same time mixing them up with sharp short stuff. The left armer even went onto clock speeds of 145 kmph plus! McKay finished with 4 for 62 and Mills with neat figures of 10-0-42-3 as India collapsed from 250 for 4 to 276 all out in 49 overs. It was because of Yusuf Pathan’s cameo of 29 from 19 balls with 3 fours and a six that India got any runs after Kohli’s exit.
New Zealand Batting
New Zealand in their chase lost their first wicket in Jamie How (9 from 15 balls) when he pulled Nehra straight to short mid wicket. Guptill, the other opener looked good initially belting some flat shots but lost his momentum and wicket soon dragging a slog off Ashwin to Munaf at long on in the 10th over. Ashwin got plenty of turn off the wicket which caused the mistake from Guptill while the Kiwi innings was stuck on 46 for 2. Skipper Taylor tried to provide some energy but Williamson, who came in at no.3 was too slow which could never release the pressure on his side.
It was a 77-run partnership for the 3rd wicket which was providing a launching pad for the Kiwis but was too slow because of Williamson’s 25 from 51 balls. The partnership was broken when Williamson was given caught behind when he had appeared to have under-edged a cut shot off Yuvraj to the keeper. Yuvraj went onto remove the next batsman – Scott Styris cheaply who got a geniune edge cutting an arm ball to Pathan at slip in the 30th over. In the next over, Sreesanth returned back to force Elliott edging him to Pathan at slip to reduce New Zealand at 136 for 5.
Yuvraj Singh took his third wicket when he had Daryl Tuffey smashing him straight into the hands of Raina at extra covers. Skipper Ross Taylor who was now left without any recognized batsmen was the next to go when he top edged a slog sweep off a carrom ball from Ashwin. Taylor scored a breezy 66 from 69 balls with 3 fours and 3 sixes. Ashwin too picked up his third wicket like Yuvraj and he got Hopkins lobbing up a cut shot to short thirdman after the ball had stopped onto the bat.
At 169 for 8 in the 36th over, the match was as good as over but there was still some serious fight left with the big hitting Nathan McCullum and Kyle Mills at the crease. Both played some big shots to take New Zealand closer towards the target, but at the right time India broke the partnership when Skipper Gautam Gambhir ran backwards to his left at covers to come up with a sensational catch. It was the end of a superb partnership of 67 runs in less than 10 overs when Gambhir caught a slog off McCullum who made 35 from 35 balls. Kyle Mills got out in the very next ball top edging a pull off Sreesanth to the keeper after a 28-ball 32 that had two sixes.
For India, the two spinners – R Aswhin with 10-1-50-3 and Yuvraj Singh with 10-0-43-3 did the job fabulously well on a pitch that was slow and helped the ball to grip it. Virat Kohli picked up the Man of the Match for setting up the victory with his century in the first half.