Dharamsala: Virat Kohli ran a couple, went for another single next ball and reached his fifty with what has become a big feature in his limited-overs cricket – running between the wickets. It was evident during the World T20 earlier this year and it was more of the same when India chased down 191 to go 1-0 up against New Zealand in the five-match ODI series in Dharamsala on Sunday.
Kohli walked out to bat with the scoreboard reading 49/1 after Rohit Sharma was dismissed LBW. Ajinkya Rahane followed his him soon and India were reduced to 62/2. Kohli applied himself with Manish Pandey, who came out to bat at no.4, and ran most of his first fifty runs. There was no desperate search of boundaries by India’s champion chaser and he went about doing business with ease, in singles.
Pandey didn’t last long and was dismissed off a loose Ish Sodhi delivery and India’s sprinters were reunited. MS Dhoni walked out and was off the blocks as soon as he scratched the popping crease. The two were chasing the modest target in singles before a mix-up led to India’s ODI captain’s departure.
Kohli opened up a bit after scoring fifty and found the odd boundary to finish the chase in a hurry. In his nine hits to the ropes, the cover-drives were the best. He would get the big stride forward and make sweet connection, with even better follow-through of the blade. If cover-drives were there, so was the pull. New Zealand kept persisting with the short-ball and even after leaking runs against Rohit and Rahane, they didn’t stop against Kohli.
The right-hander was happy to convert and his front-foot pull off Southee was a treat to watch. Definitely rolled back a couple of years, and brought back memories of India’s Test series in Australia where Kohli pulled for a living.
Pandya shines on debut
Playing his first ODI for India, Hardik Pandya was on top of his bowling game. With the hard new ball, the seamer conceded three boundaries early in his first over but was patient to give the side early success.
He scalped Martin Guptill, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi on what was an amazing debut day for the youngster. He was well assisted by Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra and Kedar Jadhav, who picked two, three and two wickets respectively.
For New Zealand, however, it was a forgettable day at the office. The batsmen struggled right from the start and apart from Tom Latham, who became the first New Zealand batsman to carry his bat in ODIs, no specialist delivered. Southee’s fifty lower down the order pushed the total but it was never going to be enough for the hosts packed batting line-up.