Boult stuns India in Hamilton

India fell prey to a lightning Trent Boult masterclass in Hamilton giving New Zealand their first victory over the visitors in the five-match ODI series on Thursday.

New Zealand won the toss, as Kane Williamson, well acquainted with the track at Seddon Park, asked Rohit Sharma and Co. to bat first. That the last four ODIs in Hamilton had been won by the side batting second giving the Blackcaps a mental edge in the game.

A renewed Kiwi side took the field with a handful of changes to their playing XI, while the Men in Blue saw the addition of two young talents – debutant, Shubman Gill, and Khaleel Ahmed. Rohit Sharma was leading India for the first time outside Asia in an ODI.

Matt Henry got his first shot with the new ball in this series. He joined forces with swing ace Trent Boult as New Zealand prepared to make the first powerplay their own.

Barring two well-timed boundaries by Shikhar Dhawan, the Kiwi bowlers did not let India’s opening pair get into their stride. The tight bowling came to fruition as Boult had Dhawan leg-before-wicket to send him back to the pavilion with just 21 on the board.

The 19-year-old debutant Shubman Gill walked in at number three and played the Kiwi pacers with a cool demeanour. However, the Blackcaps found a way to get rid of Rohit early in his 200th ODI when Boult had him caught and bowled for just seven.

After the departure of the Indian openers, the New Zealand bowling force stunted India’s middle order. With little experience of batting at such a nascent phase of the innings, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik fell cheaply to Colin de Grandhomme in the 11th over. In the very next over, Boult picked up his third wicket to send Gill packing with another catch off his own bowling.

In his seventh over, Boult picked out Kedar Jadhav before the wicket. Tainting the spell of impressive records being made by Team India, 35/6 was the second lowest score at the fall of the sixth wicket for the Men in Blue in ODIs. The Kiwi riot continued as de Grandhomme bowled Bhuvneshwar Kumar out in the 17th over.

Against the flow of proceedings, at a stage where runs were deficient, Hardik Pandya hit three elegant boundaries against the steaming Boult. Unsurprisingly, the speedster made a strong comeback to pick out Pandya in his final over to finish a magnificent spell. With 5/21, Boult’s staggering figures come second only to Shane Bond’s 6/19 when it comes to an encounter involving India and New Zealand. This five-for helped Boult equal Richard Hadlee’s record of achieving the feat on five occasions in one-day cricket for the Blackcaps.

The damage control by India’s tailenders helped India put up 92 runs on board, before getting bowled out in 30.5 overs. Yuzvendra Chahal top-scored with an unbeaten 17.
The Kiwi openers, Martin Guptill with his new partner Henry Nicholls, came out with a confident stride knowing the sparse target India had put on board. Guptill was on the prowl from the word go as he sent Bhuvi’s first ball out of the park. The drama in the first over continued as he followed it up by two back-to-back fours. However, the tide was quick to turn as Bhuvi got Guptill out on the next ball, courtesy of a simple catch by Hardik Pandya at backward point.

Bhuvneswhar and Khaleel’s attempts to contain New Zealand seemed futile as the Kiwis were scoring runs at regular intervals. Notwithstanding a maiden-wicket from Bhuvi to get Williamson out, the Blackcaps chasing down the total was only a matter of time.

Be it with pace or swing, 92 was far from a contending total even for a team with India’s form. Henry Nicholls (30*) and Ross Taylor (37*) ensured that the Blackcaps cruised to register their first victory of the series. A Man of the Match performance by Trent Boult and a forgetful collapse of India’s batting made for a fairly one-sided match at Seddon Park.

The final match of the ODI series, that India lead 3-1, will be played in Wellington on February 3.