Ross Taylor hugs his captain Tom Latham at the end of the ODI win over
Ross Taylor hugs his captain Tom Latham at the end of the ODI win over Image Credit: AP

No praise can be too high for the manner in which New Zealand mounted their highest successful chase on Wednesday night.

Even on its own, getting past India’s 347 in the first One-Day International was a monumental achievement.

To do it after the 5-0 rout in the preceding T20Is, and that after losing the last three games from positions of strength, showed their resilience and belief.

There was also some controversy surrounding the pre-decided break coach Gary Stead took after the T20I whitewash.

Taking all those factors into consideration, the four-wicket victory must rank at the very top of their 50-over feats.

Ross Taylor was the glue who held the chase together, with excellent support from Henry Nicholls, who didn’t carry the baggage of the T20I losses, and the impressive Tom Latham, doing an admirable job as captain in Kane Williamson’s absence.

To scale down such a mammoth target, New Zealand had to both not lose wickets upfront and also keep the rate required to manageable proportions.

Even though Martin Guptill was subdued, Nicholls’ enterprise helped them achieve both those goals.

Nicholls and Taylor rebuilt after Guptill and Tom Blundell fell in quick succession, while the Taylor-Latham century stand put the issue beyond doubt.

New Zealand was exceptional between overs 30 and 40, rattling up 117 runs as they took calculated gambles and targeted the short boundary, and by the beginning of the 41st over, the asking rate was down to 5.6, almost unthinkable when the target is nearly 350.

India will rue their fielding in Hamilton in particular. For the third successive ODI series, they lost the first match but I am confident that like they did against West Indies and Australia at home, they will come back stronger. For that, they will have to show more energy in the field, greater discipline with the ball and be creative when a partnership is building.

Kuldeep Yadav’s reprieve of Taylor, when he was only 10, was one of the turning points; India can’t afford any more fielding mishaps going forward.

The batting was impressive, from debutants Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw through Virat Kohli to Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul. Shreyas showed that he can build an innings and then switch gears effortlessly, while Rahul’s sparkling knock rekindled memories of explosive finishes from M.S. Dhoni and Hardik Pandya. If India can extend their batting brilliance to the other two departments, I can’t see why they can’t knot up the series in Auckland.