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India delivers reality check to Black Caps in first innings

Niall Anderson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 23 January 2019, 6:57PM
Mohammad Shami appeals for the wicket of Mitchell Santner. (Photo / Photosport)
Mohammad Shami appeals for the wicket of Mitchell Santner. (Photo / Photosport)

All it took was 38 overs for the Indian bowling attack to deliver the Black Caps batsmen a hefty dose of reality.

Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal ripped through the New Zealand batting lineup, as the hosts were routed for 157 in perfect batting conditions at McLean Park in Napier.

With the sun blazing down on a pacey wicket, and short boundaries inviting a healthy peppering, the Black Caps would have been eyeing 300 – at worst – when they set out to bat. Instead, their first completed innings in nearly four years at the revamped venue was absolutely not worth the wait.

Only Kane Williamson reached 25 as the Black Caps proved incapable of playing the Indian legspinners, and were outclassed by Shami's searing starting seam spell.

It's a significant wake-up call for the batsmen, after the destruction they had delivered against Sri Lanka earlier this month. Scores of 371, 319 and 364 were compiled with ultimate ease, and while India were always going to be a significant step up, it was their batting which arguably delivered more fear than their bowling.

As it turns out, they're not shabby at both aspects, as Shami and the spinners showed the level the Black Caps will need to be at come the World Cup.

Shami started the rout, claiming the scalps of openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro in his first two overs. It's now 12 straight innings where the opening partnership hasn't reached 35, and both batsmen saw deliveries from Shami jag back in and shatter their stumps.

That only brought Ross Taylor to the crease however, and considering the form he was in – having carved six consecutive fifties – there was little reason to panic as he and Williamson started a slow rebuild.

However, as Taylor reached 24 and looked to accelerate, his run of milestones came to an end at the hands of the deceptive Chahal. Efficiently changing his pace with variable amounts of drift and loop, Chahal lured Taylor out of his crease, and all he could do was offer a meek return catch to the ecstatic bowler.

Tom Latham departed in identical fashion – Chahal clinging to a low chance - and when Kedar Jadhav ended the brief stay of Henry Nicholls, Williamson was left with a mighty load to carry.

He was fortunate to not be in the pavilion himself – dropped at fine leg on 20 by Jadhav, but, dabbing like it was 2017, he kept things ticking over, and found the boundary just enough to maintain hope of a competitive total.

He passed 50 for the 47th time in ODIs, but received no help - Mitchell Santner made it three straight players to reach double digits but not pass 14 - before Williamson, in attempt to up the tempo, holed out down the ground for 64.

And considering the specialist batsmen had no answers for the spin, there was no hope for the tail, tumbling from 146-6 to 157 all out as Yadav and Chahal tied them in knots – India's spinners ending with 7-99 in 23 overs.

On a supposed batsman's paradise, it was nowhere near good enough from the Black Caps, and leaves lots to redeem in the final four games of the series.


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