New Zealand finally cross the finish line after Ross Taylor century against India in first ODI

Hosts chase down 348 with nearly two overs to spare despite familiar late panic

New Zealand's Ross Taylor celebrates his century during the One Day cricket international between India and New Zealand at Seddon Oval in Hamilton, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
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New Zealand finally tasted success despite a familiar stumble towards the end to beat India by four wickets in the first ODI in Hamilton on Wednesday.

Ross Taylor, who failed to take the hosts past the finish line during the 5-0 T20 defeat, made no mistake this time as he hit an unbeaten 109 off just 84 balls while opener Henry Nicholls (78) and stand-in captain Tom Latham (69 from 48) made sizeable contributions to help the Blackcaps chase down a hefty target of 348 with nearly two overs to spare.

The Kiwis were without Kane Williamson but remained in control almost throughout the chase. Openers Martin Guptill (32) and Nicholls gave them a steady start, adding 85 by the 16th over. After the two departed, Taylor and Latham went after India’s weakest links – Shardul Thakur (1-80 from nine overs) and Kuldeep Yadav (2-84).

By the 40-over mark, New Zealand were far ahead of the required rate, needing 56 runs from 60 balls with seven wickets in hand. But, as has become their habit, they started to lose focus as they neared the target. Latham and then Jimmy Neesham were caught down the ground going for the big shots while Colin de Grandhomme was run out while attempting a dangerous second run.

All of a sudden, the hosts needed 14 from 18 balls. But Jasprit Bumrah had bowled out, which meant they could go after Thakur. The seamer bowled the 48th over in which Mitchell Santner hit him for a six over mid-wicket and a four to end the match before time and earn the Kiwis a deserved 1-0 lead.

Earlier, India’s total was set up by a century from middle order batsman Shreyas Iyer (103 from 107 balls) and a stroke-filled 88 from 64 balls from the in-form Kl Rahul, who was batting in the middle-order.

Captain Virat Kohli scored 51 but his innings took 63 balls and in the high-scoring game, his innings along with that of Iyer ended up taking a few too many balls.

After the defeat, Kohli said that while his team tried hard, it was New Zealand who played the better cricket and credited Latham for taking the momentum away from India.

“It was an outstanding performance by New Zealand. They batted really well. We thought 348 was good enough. Ross is the experienced batsman, but Tom’s innings was the one that took away the momentum,” Kohli said after the defeat.

“We didn't grab on to one chance, but we were decent. Today, the opposition played better than us and they deserved to win.”