Virat Kohli’s exhilarating hundred went in vain as New Zealand staged a dramatic turnaround to pull off a thrilling 24-run win in the first cricket one-dayer against India to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series here Sunday.
Set a formidable target of 293, India seemed on track for a facile win with Kohli (123 off 110 balls) anchoring the chase with his 18th ODI century before pacer Mitchell McClenaghan’s three-wicket burst 11 balls changed the complexion of the game completely.
From a comfortable 224 for five, the Indians were all out for 268 in 48.4 overs with McClenaghan being the wrecker-in-chief with a match haul of 4/68.
Earlier, electing to bowl after winning the toss, India`s inconsistent bowling effort helped New Zealand pile up 292 for seven.
For the Kiwis, apart McClenaghan, Corey Anderson shone bright with an all-round effort, scoring 68 runs off 40 deliveries before knocking off two wickets in his 10 overs of medium pace bowling.
Tim Southee (1-43 in 9.4 overs) and Adam Milne (1-40 in 7.3 overs) gave Anderson good support, even as the latter walked off mid-way in the 41st over with a side-strain.
After being put in to bat, half-centuries from Anderson, Kane Williamson (71) and Ross Taylor (55) helped the hosts reach 292/7 in their allotted 50 overs.
However, the brightest star of the match ended up in the losing side.
Kohli, who scored his a first hundred in a losing cause while chasing, found no support from other batsmen, none of who managed to reach even the 50-run mark.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started with great caution. Southee bowled two maiden overs first up as the batsmen took time settling down.
In fact, the first wicket came before the first boundary in this innings, as Rohit failed to rotate the strike and came under pressure to score, holing out to Southee off a short ball from McClenaghan in the sixth over. He scored only 3 runs off 23 balls.
Kohli came to the crease and got off the mark with a signature cover drive, the first four for India on the 29th ball of the innings.
Along with Dhawan, he put on 58 runs for the second wicket as the two batsmen tried to build a platform from which to launch the chase.
The runs were coming in a trickle and the first 10 overs yielded only 43. India’s 50 came up in the 12th over, while their 50-partnership came four overs later.
Dhawan tried to be the more aggressive of the two, but his timing was off as he could only muster a strike-rate of 69.56. His dismissal in the 19th over reflected as much, a mistimed pull off a short ball from Anderson. It was a huge blow for the team as the partnership was developing well at that time.
On 15 not out, Dhawan had been given a life in the ninth over, when Anderson, at square leg, managed to only get a hand on a high pull shot.
But the Indian failed to capitalise and was finally out for 32 runs off 46 balls. He hit three fours. It resulted in two more quick wickets with Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina back in the hut within ten overs.