Bowlers set up India’s comprehensive six-wicket win over New Zealand in the first one-day international as batting mainstay Virat Kohli anchored the hosts’ chase in the low-scoring encounter in Dharamsala on Sunday.
The hosts, who were chasing a modest 191 for victory, rode on the 60-run partnership between Kohli (85 not out) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to canter home in 33.1 overs.
But it was the bowling led by debutant medium-pacer Hardik Pandya (3-31) and Amit Mishra (3-49) that helped topple New Zealand for a lowly 190 and set the platform for the big win.
Pace spearhead Umesh Yadav and off-spinner Kedar Jadhav also took two wickets each after the hosts elected to bowl first at the picturesque Dharamsala ground.
“Fantastic performance from the fast bowlers. We had no clue it (the pitch) would help the fast bowlers,” Dhoni said after the win.
“Hardik exploited the good length. Umesh is somebody who has been quite quick consistently, he has gone from fit to one of the fittest.
“Hardik is deceptive, you think he’d bowl 132, but he crosses 135 consistently,” Dhoni said in praise of the 23-year-old pacer who was named man of the match.
New Zealand pacer Doug Bracewell checked India’s brisk start after getting Rohit Sharma lbw for 14 after the batsman missed a fuller delivery while trying to flick it on the leg side.
Ajinkya Rahane did not last long after losing his opening partner as he was caught behind off James Neesham for 33, his knock laced with 4 fours and 2 sixes.
Kohli then put on 40 runs with Manish Pandey (17) as the duo looked to stabilise the chase.
Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi had Pandey walking back to the pavilion as the visitors made a valiant attempt to make inroads into the Indian middle order.
But Kohli stayed firm to record his 37th ODI fifty in 172 games as the prolific scorer hit 9 fours and a winning six during his 81-ball stay at the crease.
Feature image source: AFP