Men in Blue register eight-wicket win to go 1-0 in five-match series
A match billed as a runfest was turned upside-down by India's spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal on Wednesday, as New Zealand were crushed by eight wickets in the first One-Day International (ODI) in Napier.
India arrived at the ground with Captain Virat Kohli expecting 300-plus to be par but when his bowlers rolled New Zealand for 157 the outcome became a formality.
"When I lost the toss I thought it's going to be 300 plus but the way the guys bowled and created pressure turned out to be absolutely opposite," he said. "You know, 150 on that kind of a wicket was quite an easy total to chase down and it all boils down to the effort of the bowlers."
Yadav and Chahal delivered a spin bowling masterclass, mesmerising New Zealand with six wickets between them, while Mohammed Shami claimed three as New Zealand folded for a mere 157 with 12 overs to spare.
The target was reduced by two runs and one over for India following a 30-minute break when the setting sun blinded the eyes of players and umpires.
But the interruption made no difference to Shikhar Dhawan, who was unbeaten on 75 after leading India to mow down the target in 34.5 overs.
A disappointed New Zealand captain Kane Williamson blamed his side's effort on an inability to handle the precision Indian attack.
"Usually you come here and you're thinking 300-plus, sometimes mid 300s, but it certainly wasn't that and required a bit more graft," he said. "Judging by some of the dismissals it showed we didn't adjust as quickly as we would like to."
Coming off a series win against Australia, India showed they are building nicely as a well-balanced unit four months out from the World Cup, while for New Zealand there is work to be done.
The New Zealand innings folded so quickly that India had time to bat for nine overs before the scheduled break, reaching 41 with Dhawan on 29 and Sharma on 11.
Sharma went on the second ball after the interval, with Doug Bracewell making the breakthrough, before the players left the field again when the setting sun reached a dangerously low angle.
When India's innings restarted again, Dhawan on 31 was dropped by wicketkeeper Tom Latham.
It was a costly error for New Zealand as the left-hander, who passed 5,000 ODI runs in the course of the innings, went on to make his 26th half century.
Kohli, a day after becoming the first player to clinch all three top International Cricket Council honours including cricketer of the year, was caught behind for 45. Ambati Rayudu finished not out 13.
When New Zealand elected to bat, it took Shami only eight deliveries to clean out openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro before Yadav and Chahal worked their magic.
Ross Taylor's run of six successive half-centuries came to an end when he was caught and bowled by Chahal for 24.
Tom Latham, reputedly New Zealand's best player of spin, went the same way for 11.
Williamson, so often saddled with the task of rescuing his side, reached 64 before he fell to Yadav.
New Zealand were then 146 for seven, with the last three wickets adding only 11 more runs.
Yadav finished with four for 39, Chahal took two for 43, while Shami had three for 19 off six overs.
The second match in the five-match series is on Saturday in Mount Maunganui.