Mohali, (IANS) Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 154 off just 134 deliveries as India beat New Zealand by seven wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) cricket series here on Sunday.
Kohli, who scored his 26th ODI century, shared a 151-run stand with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (80) as India chased down New Zealand’s total of 285 all out with 10 balls to spare.
Tom Latham (61) and James Neesham (57) played pivotal roles in New Zealand’s total as they overcame a middle-order batting failure at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.
The show was dominated by right-hander Kohli, who hit 16 fours and a six as he and Manish Pandey (28) shared an unbeaten 97-run stand before taking India home.
It was a day of records for Dhoni, who not only became the fifth Indian to complete 9,000 ODI career runs during his 61st fifty but also became the first wicket-keeper to effect 150 stumping dismissals.
However, Dhoni’s start to the day as a captain was not as bright as he would have expected as the visitors looked good from the beginning after being asked to bat on a pacy wicket.
Martin Guptill (27 off 21) and Latham managed to score quickly after the first two silenced overs.
The seventh over saw Yadav dismissing Guptill with a leg before wicket (LBW) decision. By this time, New Zealand were 46 for one in 6.4 overs.
The partnership between captain Kane Williamson (22) and Latham lasted for only 34 runs as the former attempted a sweep off a Kedar Jadhav delivery that went on to hit the pads, resulting in a LBW.
Later, Latham was joined by Taylor and the right-hander, whose highest score on this tour so far was 36, showed ominous signs of posting a big score.
With ones and twos, he and Latham managed to drive New Zealand ahead and their partnership flourished and it looked like their team would manage to score more than 300.
But it was not to be. A classical leg-spin delivery from Mishra sharply spun away from Taylor who had stepped out of the crease, giving home captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to record his 150th stumping dismissal — the first wicket-keeper in the world to do so. After the end of the 73-run stand, New Zealand were 153/3 in 28.3 overs.
From thereon, New Zealand’s shortcomings in shot selection came to the fore as they lost three wickets within the space of four overs.
While left-hander Corey Anderson (6) offered a catch to Ajinkya Rahane at mid-off to a full toss from Jadhav, Mishra enticed Luke Ronchi (1) out of his crease and the batsman missed the ball before Dhoni did another stumping.
The big wicket of Latham also came through a poor shot as he drove straight a Jadhav delivery at Pandya at short cover. Latham’s innings witnessed three hits to the fence and one over it.
All-rounder Mitchell Santner (7) too perished, as a leading edge off a Jasprit Bumrah delivery went to Virat Kohli at point, reducing the visiting side to 180/7 in 34.2 overs. Tim Southee (13) was bowled by Yadav as the New Zealanders reeled at 199/8 in 37.5 overs.
But Neesham got good support from tail-ender Henry as the duo formed a partnership to bail the team out of trouble.
While Neesham scored 57 off 47 deliveries with the help of seven fours, Henry showed a lot of composure in his 37-ball unbeaten 39.
In the chase, India’s start in pursuit of the New Zealand’s total was poor with the opening duo of Rohit Sharma (13) and Ajinkya Rahane (5) falling early.
In between Kohli too struggled but stayed on after being given a reprieve by Ross Taylor at slip off a a pacer Matt Henry delivery when the Indian was batting on six.
Then, Dhoni joined hands with Kohli as the underperforming captain promoted himself up the order. It was a statement of intent from Dhoni who has been recently criticised for poor batting form.
New Zealand’s hopes of putting Dhoni under pressure evaporated as soon as Dhoni moved out of his crease to whack a bouncer from paceman Tim Southee.
The duo of Kohli and Dhoni played fluently afterwards. Mixing caution with aggression, they plundered boundaries at regular intervals to ease the run rate pressure.
Dhoni smashed six fours and three sixes during his 91-ball innings and when he got out — a catch by Taylor at short cover off Henry delivery — his team was in a strong position with 94 runs required from 16.1 overs.
Later, Kohli and Pandey sealed India’s win.