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Latham, Williamson make light of India’s 306 in easy chase | Cricket

India’s transition from the busy lane of T20 cricket to the quieter pastures of one hit wonders didn’t get off to a promising start as Tom Latham and Kane Williamson added 221 off 165 balls for the fourth wicket to help New Zealand win by seven wickets in the first of the three-match ODI series in Auckland, on Friday. Fifties from Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer helped India with 306/7, believed to be a par total, but Latham scored an unbeaten 145 from 104 balls and Williamson 94 from 98 balls to give New Zealand a 1-0 lead with Save 17 balls. New Zealand, the number 1 ODI side in the world, are now unbeaten for their last 13 ODIs at home. And India has now lost their last five ODIs against them.

New Zealand were by no means runaway winners. This was a slow, calculated attack on target after Umran Malik, on his debut alongside Arshdeep Singh, took the wickets of Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell to reduce New Zealand to 88/3 in the 20th over. But Latham came in and got straight into the groove, scoring his fifty with almost a run a ball before accelerating towards the end, making his hundred in just 76 balls and racing to goal with the calm and selfless Williamson playing a steady hand on the other end. They needed 144 from the last 18 overs but New Zealand reduced the equation to 66 from 60 balls after Shardul Thakur was knocked down by Latham for four boundaries and a six in a run of 25.

“It was just one of those days when everything worked out,” Latham said after the win. “Build a partnership with Kane and had a little fun, just reacting to things and it paid off. It’s about being in strong positions and reacting to what they were bowling. Found the holes. The preparation was ideal, it was fun and I was able to hit the ball well today.” India captain Dhawan took the loss on his chin. “We felt good about the total. The ball did a lot for the first 10-15 overs. It’s a bit different from other grounds. Today we bowled short and Latham attacked us there. That’s where he took the game away from us, especially in the 40th over. That’s where the momentum shifted,” Dhawan said.

Until that was over by Thakur bowling a little too many short deliveries, India were quite decent despite being a five bowler unit. Washington Sundar got his turn and backed up his 16-ball 37-run cameo with a brilliant bowling economy of 4.2, but didn’t get enough support from Yuzvendra Chahal. Malik was fast and got moving early, but the other fast bowlers weren’t disciplined enough. Arshdeep was extremely expensive, conceding 68 in 8.1 overs.

In the end, it came down to how the batters adapted to a pitch with spongy bounce. New Zealand took its time and accelerated spread out. Latham was the aggressor and used the sweep shot to good effect against Washington and Chahal, while Williamson concentrated on closing the gaps, using the pace and working the offense well when the boundaries didn’t come. India, still in a T20 hangover, looked confused in the middle overs as Iyer and Pant added just 10 runs between overs 27 and 31.

The start was also subdued as Dhawan and Gill played 44 dot balls in the first 10 overs. But they compensated well, adding 124 runs in 23.1 overs, chasing Matt Henry and using Lockie Ferguson’s pace to push boundaries. Both Dhawan and Gill reached fifty in 63 balls, but neither consolidated their starts to hundreds. Gill was the first to go and put Ferguson on a deep square leg. In the next over, Dhawan couldn’t control his piece off Tim Southee and hit it to Finn Allen on a back run for his 200th ODI wicket. Pant and Suryakumar Yadav were dismissed in the same over by Ferguson, but Iyer and Sanju Samson relived the innings with a score of 94 runs. Washington’s innings helped India add 96 in the last ten overs, but it was not good enough to prevent New Zealand galloping to a comfortable victory.

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