India take 2-0 series lead over Black Caps

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Saturday, 26 January 2019, 2:44PM
MS Dhoni piles on the runs as a frustrated Lockie Ferguson looks on. (Photo / Getty)
MS Dhoni piles on the runs as a frustrated Lockie Ferguson looks on. (Photo / Getty)

The Black Caps knew that India would be a tough test, but so far, they haven't produced a single answer.

A 90-run win in the second one-day international at Bay Oval has given India a 2-0 series lead in their five-match ODI series, and there hasn't been a moment in which New Zealand have held the upper hand.

Swatted by eight wickets after collapsing batting first in the first ODI, today's clash at Bay Oval was similarly one-sided, with India piling on the runs after choosing to bat first, and the Black Caps never looking like pulling off a successful chase.

It was always going to be a tough ask after India posted 324-4, but steady wickets hindered any hopes as only Doug Bracewell, with a late 57, passed 35. India's spinners again proved a puzzle the Black Caps batsmen couldn't solve, and proved far more threatening than New Zealand's bowling attack, which struggled to make inroads against a stacked Indian lineup.

With all of India's specialist batsmen averaging 45 or more, and their bowlers in top form, there's hardly a weakness to be found in the Indian team at the moment, and it takes an excellent performance to topple the world's No.2 ranked side.

Yet, the Black Caps haven't come close. Their batting let them down in game one, and today their bowling wasn't up to par, as India compiled 154 for the first wicket and never looked back.

Rohit Sharma (87) and Shikhar Dhawan (66) overcame some nervous early moments – Sharma had two edges evade the slips in the first over – before eventually putting India in a superb position, and Virat Kohli (43), Ambati Rayudu (47) and MS Dhoni (48 not out) were all similarly comfortable as the Black Caps lacked wicket-taking options.

Ish Sodhi (0-43) did well to peg the visitors back when 350 looked odds-on, but Bracewell (0-59) and Colin de Grandhomme (0-62 from eight overs) both struggled to draw loose strokes. And, just when it looked like the Black Caps could at least restrict India to a respectable total, the visitors bashed 35 off the last two overs from Trent Boult (2-61) and Lockie Ferguson (2-81).

It left a significant chase required, and the Black Caps were never in control. Martin Guptill survived four chances in the first four overs – nearly being run out first ball, then having three edges somehow avoid stumps and fielders.

He couldn't survive a fifth chance through, with an attempted ramp being caught on the third man boundary – making it 13 ODI innings in a row where New Zealand's opening partnership hasn't reached 35.

Guptill's partner – Colin Munro – has yet to completely convince in the one-day format, and after a mature start to his innings, departed for 31 from 41 balls trying to reverse sweep Yuzvendra Chahal, being trapped chest before wicket.

In between, Kane Williamson played a curious cameo, smacking 20 off 11 balls, including 18 off four deliveries from Mohammed Shami, before chopping on to his fifth offering. Williamson's ability to play his shots so late can be a blessing and a curse, and not for the first time this summer, he was dismissed trying to play a late cut.

India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates the wicket of Kane Williamson. Photo / Getty

It wasn't what we've come to expect from Williamson, and the same could be said of Ross Taylor, whose stellar recent form has yet to translate against India, being stumped for 22.

That left the Black Caps at 100-4, and while they continued to accumulate to keep the required run-rate in check, they couldn't stop the flow of wickets as Kuldeep Yadav struck. Tom Latham looked good but played all around a delivery and went for 34, de Grandhomme holed out on the boundary, and Henry Nicholls looped an edge to short third man - Yadav claiming all three scalps.

Bracewell smacked his first international 50 to produce at least some respectability, but it was all in vain as India wrapped up the victory. Surely, the series will soon follow.