After amassing a competitive total of 276 in their innings, the Indians put up a spirited performance in the field and overcame a late surge from New Zealand batsmen Kyle Mills and Nathan McCullum, to win the first match of the 5-game ODI series at Guwahati by 40 runs. Virat Kohli was rightly named man of the match for his crucial 105.
The New Zealand innings got off to positive start with Martin Guptill straight-driving Nehra for a four in the first over itself and in the fourth over getting Sreesanth away for two fours, one a straight drive and the other a pull, wide of midwicket. In the 5th over, Guptill once again went after Sreesanth, smacking him for another couple of boundaries. Then, How hit one four before getting caught at midwicket off Nehra for 9. New Zealand had lost their first wicket for 32 in 6.4 overs.
Captain Gambhir introduced R Ashwin into the attack in the 8th over itself, but straight away Guptill got on top of the off-spinner, sending him for a boundary at long-on. Guptill's time was running out as was evident when he was just barely got away with the shot off Nehra to short midwicket, a tough chance for Murali Vijay who spilled it.
But Ashwin had the last laugh when he got Guptill out with a flighted delivery in the next over. The batsman had to depart for a 37-ball 30 and New Zealand were on the backfoot at 46/2 in 10 overs. The runs dried up for a period of about 5 overs from then with Taylor and Williamson looking quite unsteady at the crease.
But then, the run-rate slowly picked up with 7 runs coming off the Yuraj-bowled 18th over, and then 10 runs off 22nd over, which Yuvraj also bowled. Then Taylor went after Yusuf Pathan, smacking the allrounder for two huge consecutive sixes in the 23rd over to take New Zealand, rather belatedly, over the 100-run mark.
Williamson who was doing a passable job supporting Taylor, was out for a sluggish 25 and the Kiwis were again in trouble at 113/3 in the 26th over. Taylor brought up his fifty soon after. It had been a fairly fluent innings, coming off 58 deliveries and studded with 2 fours and a couple of sixes.
But his work was far from over. Again there were a few quiet overs with a lull in the scoring rate adding to the pressure on the Kiwis. Styris departed soon afterward, out to Yuvraj Singh, and the Kiwis were reduced to 130/4 in 29.2 overs. Sreesanth ensured that Elliot follow Styris back to the hut almost immediately with the Kiwis ship now sinking steadily at 136/5 in 30.3 overs.
In the 31st over, Taylor was nearly caught by a diving Kohli at midwicket. But just two balls later, the new batsmen Tuffy, was caught at short cover by Suresh Raina for 4 and Yuvraj had picked up his third wicket. At 144/6 in 31.4 overs, the Kiwis were in the midst of a collapse. In the 34th over, Taylor swung Ashwin for a six over long leg, but in the very next shot he was caught by Patel, trying to repeat the shot.
In the last ditched attempt to revive his side's flagging innings, Hopkins hit Nehra for two fours in the 35th over. The batsmen was even dropped of the second shot when Ashwin couldn't hold on to the catch at deep square leg. But Hopkins innings came to and end in the next over when Ashwin had him caught by Pathan at short third man, for 16.
At 169/8 in 35.3 overs, the contest seemed well and truly over. But Mills hadn't given up and biffed a couple of big sixes. Then McCullum joined in the fun, hitting Nehra for two fours in the 41st over and taking his side to over the 200-run mark. Before India knew what had hit them, the duo had notched up a 50-run partnership and at 222/8, the equation read: 55 runs required in 39 balls.
This pair proved the proverbial ace up the Kiwis' sleeves and had brought their side within striking distance of victory. But there was twist in the tale when Sreesanth got McCullum out with the first ball of the 46th over. Then he got Mills out with his very next ball and New Zealand were bowled out for 236 in 45.2 overs, handing India a win of 40 runs. Sreesanth, Yuvraj and Ashwin picked up 3 wickets each in the match.
Batting first, India got off to a pacy start, courtesy blistering knocks from Murali Vijay who made 29 and Gautam Gambir who notched up 38, but wobbled slightly at 92/2 in 18 overs. Then Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli played out the middle overs admirably, a little circumspect at first, but taking the run-rate back over 5 an over. Yuvraj went with India in a fairly comfortable position of 180/3 in 34.2 overs. Suresh Raina failed to give Kohli much support and departed for 14 when the score was 220/4 in 40.4 overs.
Kohli, who notched up his century shortly thereafter got out just as India touched the 250-run mark. Then there was a flurry of wickets, with Wriddiman Saha, R Ashwin and Nehra going in quick succession before Yusuf Pathan struck a few lusty blows. But within minutes he and Sreesanth perished and India were all out for 276. Andy McKay picked up 4 wickets, but went for 62 runs off his 10 overs, but Kyle Mills was probably the most effective bowler with figures of 3/42.