India 129 for 3 (Kohli 52*, Dhawan 40) beat New Zealand 189 (Ronchi 66, Neesham 46*, Bhuvneshwar 3-28, Shami 3-47) by 45 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Mohammed Shami snuffed out three of New Zealand’s top four in an opening spell of five overs © Getty Images
A handsome, unbeaten half century from Virat Kohli, and a lethal spell of fast bowling from Mohammed Shami helped India to a 45-run victory via the Duckworth-Lewis method over New Zealand in the teams’ first warm-up match. Late afternoon rain, after 26 overs in the chase, forced the players off the field, and they never returned. By then, India had made 129 for 3, well ahead of the D/L par score of 84.
Regardless of the rain, India remained the favourites throughout, especially with Kohli dominating the New Zealand bowlers. His weak IPL form might have created certain doubts, but the Indian captain did not take a step back and batted with his usual positive tempo. He walked in to bat after Ajinkya Rahane had fallen into the short-ball trap set by New Zealand’s new ball pair of Tim Southee and Trent Boult.
The Oval pitch was hard with a lot of pace and bounce, which both Boult and Southee utilised to dare the Indian openers. Southee constantly tested Rahane with the short ball, and the strategy proved successful in the last over before lunch. Rahane walked out of his crease, attempting to hook a Southee bouncer, which climbed too fast on him. The weak response went straight to Boult at fine leg. It might have been a recurring dream for Rahane, considering Southee had got him out in similar fashion during the ODI series late last year in India.
But the break came at the opportune time. And then there was Kohli. Standing about a yard outside the crease, a strategy that he had used on his previous trip to England in 2014, Kohli punched, pulled and cut with aplomb. Having punched Adam Milne to the straight boundary, Kohli repeated the stroke against Southee and then cut him for another four to swiftly move into the 20s.
Shikhar Dhawan, however, had a nervous start. Neil Broom, standing at point, dropped a straightforward catch when Dhawan had made just one run. Boult, the bowler, could not believe his ill luck when, off the final delivery in the same over, an outside edge off Dhawan’s bat fell a yard short of Martin Guptill at second slip.
Dhawan batted resolutely and stitched a 68-run partnership with Kohli, before becoming the second Indian batsman to rush into a short ball and pay the price. His march to a half-century was cut short after his pull on the run went to Corey Anderson at short midwicket.
Dinesh Karthik arrived nervously to the crease and remained anxious throughout. He fell after mis-hitting a short ball from outside the off stump straight to Mitchell Santner at short midwicket. Having bagged a nine-ball duck, Karthik tapped the back of his head, perhaps, realising how terribly he had batted.
Shikhar Dhawan made 40 before holing out to short midwicket © Getty Images
A distracted Kohli was then lucky to get away on 45 when he drove Boult uppishly, away from his body. Santner, this time at short cover, leapt, but the force of the shot beat his outstretched hands. Eventually Kohli reached his fifty when he lunged forward and unfurled a beautiful cover drive off Colin de Grandhomme in the 24th over.
Overall it was a good day at work for Kohli and India. Kane Williamson had opted to bat on a warm morning, but Shami stuck an immediate blow when Guptill failed to clear Bhuvneshwar Kumar at mid off. Luke Ronchi, the other opener, was aggressive against Hardik Pandya, who shared the new ball. The allrounder leaked 29 runs off his first three overs.
Full report to follow
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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