HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND (AFP) – An unbeaten century from veteran batsman Ross Taylor powered New Zealand to a stunning four-wicket win over India in the first one-day international (ODI) in Hamilton on Wednesday night.
The hosts completed the second highest run chase in their history to finish on 348 for four and overhaul the imposing target set by India.
It was a morale-boosting victory for the Black Caps, who went into the match as underdogs after a 5-0 whitewash in the recent Twenty20 (T20) series, when they repeatedly squandered winning opportunities.
The roles were reversed at Seddon Park, with India posting a mammoth total of 347 for four after losing the toss, including a maiden century to Shreyas Iyer and half-centuries for skipper Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.
But the tourists’ bowling attack failed to prevent a match-turning innings from Taylor, who scored a 73-ball century, his 21st in ODIs, and ended the match on 109 not out.
He was supported by a quick-fire 69 from captain Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls’ hard-fought 78, although three late wickets gave India hope of rescuing the match.
“It’s been a long time between drinks,” said Latham, whose side suffered a 3-0 Test series defeat in Australia before the T20 drubbing on home soil.
“It’s nice to get over the line and we managed to keep our composure at the end and get there.”
Kohli was gracious in defeat, saying India produced a “decent” performance that was not quite good enough on the day.
“You have to say that the opposition played better than us because they were more intense,” he said.
New Zealand started their chase well, reaching 147 for two after 25 overs as Taylor and Nicholls developed a promising partnership.
It took a piece of fielding brilliance from Kohli to break it with India’s skipper swooping on a stay ball and tossing it underarm with skill in mid-air to run-out a diving Nicholls.
But Taylor continued his assault with Latham to take New Zealand to 292 for three with 10 overs remaining and the 35-year-old remained at the crease to hit the winning run.
While Iyer’s 103 from 107 balls was the highlight of India’s innings, debutant opening batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw also performed solidly, bringing up an opening partnership of 50.
Iyer rode his luck at times – dropped on nine and 83 – but earned praise from VVS Laxman for the way he set about dismantling New Zealand’s attack.
“I really enjoyed the way he paced his innings, a very mature knock,” the Indian batting legend said in commentary.
Laxman’s praise for Rahul, who scored an unbeaten 88, was even more fulsome, saying the wicketkeeper-batsman had cemented his spot in the Indian side after recovering from a form slump.
“He’s a special talent, I’d put him in the league of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli,” he said.
The ever-reliable Kohli cruised to his 58th ODI half-century in a 102-run partnership with Iyer that ended when spinner Ish Sodhi clean bowled him on 51 with a deceptively flighted ball.
It was a rare highlight for the New Zealand bowlers, whose inaccuracy proved expensive on the small ground.
Tim Southee was the best performer with two wickets, but he conceded 8.5 runs an over taking them.
The second ODI will be played at Auckland’s Eden Park tomorrow.