Napier, Jan 23: India skipper Virat Kohli said their 8-wicket win over New Zealand in the first contest of the five-match ODI rubber here was one of their “most balanced” performances.
Chasing a meagre revised 156-run target from 49 overs, opener Shikhar Dhawan (75 not out) starred with the bat to help his side cross the line with ease and 85 balls to spare. Skipper Virat Kohli contributed with 45 runs before falling.
Earlier, India rode the exceptional bowling effort of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (4/39) and Mohammed Shami (3/19) to restrict the hosts to a paltry 157 runs.
“It was one of our most balanced performances. With the ball, couldn’t have asked for anything better. When I lost the toss, I thought a score of about 300 par but the bowlers were brilliant.
“To get them out for 150-odd on this pitch was brilliant. Belief in his (Shami) abilities is key and as he said, the fast bowling unit is extremely confident of knocking any team out.
“The lines and lengths bowled by the spinners were brilliant because the pitch only slowed down in the second half and they were really good,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Praising Dhawan’s innings, he said: “Really important innings for Shikhar and we spoke during the sun break that he needed to finish the game to get some momentum. He is a dangerous player when in rhythm.”
Commenting on whether he’s experienced a sunstrike break before, Kohli said: “Never in my life, this rule wasn’t there in 2014 and I actually got out in a similar situation.”
Man-of-the-Match Mohammed Shami lauded India’s team effort, saying the teammates enjoy each other’s success and that is the key.
“Till now, whatever we have achieved has been a team effort. We enjoy each other’s success and are able to execute our plans.”
“If we have a plan A that doesn’t work, there’s always a Plan B. As a bowling unit, we decide things together. Injuries changed my outlook. I made a comeback after a long time and spent a good time at our rehab centre which is world class,” he said.
“The management and support staff have been really cooperative, as has been my captain who has always encouraged me. Pitches were similar to Australia but the grounds there were bigger and climate was warmer, here the venues are smaller with pleasant temperatures. Important to adapt and we’re enjoying it.”
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson blamed the batsmen, saying they failed to adjust to the conditions and the surface and their poor show with the bat was not due to lack of match practice.
“Certainly wasn’t our best effort. India, we expected them to be good and they really were on top of the game. The surface wasn’t as traditional as we thought it to be,” he said.
“India bowled well, particularly the lengths hit by their slower bowlers were really good. Getting to just 150ish on a pitch where 250-plus was needed, doesn’t help.
“I think we didn’t adjust well enough to the surface, don’t think it was the lack of match practice that cost us. Their whole bowling unit contributed well and they need credit for that.”
“We also did well with the ball, showed enough intent and will hope to take those things forward,” Williamson added.