Black Caps beat India in thrilling contest

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 22:30 19/01/2014
Mitchell McClenaghan
PHOTOSPORT
GAME-CHANGER: Mitchell McClenaghan took his punishment from M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli but turned the game dramatically in New Zealand's favour after claiming their wickets.

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It was a night of pleasure and pain for New Zealand who lost their young fast bowler but grabbed a stunning 24-run victory over India in the first one-day cricket international in Napier.

Led by a devastating spell by a fired up Mitchell McClenaghan, the hosts defended 292-7 to go 1-0 up in the five-match series last night, heading to Hamilton on Wednesday.

But whether Adam Milne will be there is in serious doubt after he shuffled off with a side strain with three deliveries left in his eighth over. He will undergo an MRI scan in coming days. Earlier the 21-year-old hit 153.4kmh on the speed radar as New Zealand took on India's batsmen with some success.

"We'll have to assess it tomorrow but it's not looking great at the moment," said captain Brendon McCullum of Milne's injury.

One seemingly immovable object stood in New Zealand's way, in the form of Virat Kohli. India's new Tendulkar batted magnificently for his 18th ODI century and while he was at the crease anything looked possible for the tourists who had a big chunk of noisy fans in the McLean Park crowd of 7576.

Eleven of Kohli's centuries when batting second had led India to victory. The ball seemed to make a different sound off his heavy bat as it flew into gaps and to the boundary in his 123 off 111 balls. He celebrated his century like it was his first, leaping in their air and saluting his adoring fans.

But in the 45th over Kohli's luck ran out as McClenaghan got the big one of his triple strike within six deliveries.

Having bounced out skipper MS Dhoni for 40 to a diving Luke Ronchi catch, he enticed Kohli to blast a full toss to Jesse Ryder at cover. Ryder had circled but not laid a hand on a Kohli skyer on 95, so he clutched the chance with glee.

New Zealand circled for the kill as Tim Southee grabbed the final wicket to skittle India for 268 with eight balls remaining. McClenaghan ended with 4-68 and is poised on 48 ODI wickets from just 19 matches.

The hosts' aggressive approach paid dividends as they went hard at India's top order, with McClenaghan snarling and the touring batsmen taking on the short ball and perishing.

"We bounced out four guys today which was the plan we wanted to implement and Mitch was a big part of that. He keeps producing at key times for us and performing in the manner we've picked him for," McCullum said.

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"The result is huge for us, to start the series against a very, very good India team. With Kohli performing the way he did and we still come out on top is a really good sign. I'm delighted with the performance."

Earlier New Zealand flirted with 300 but their 292-7 looked a touch above par. It still left India needing to top the record successful ODI chase at McLean Park of 286, by Sri Lanka in 2006.

New Zealand paced their innings well and were brought home by Anderson who rediscovered his mojo at the right time.

Since his world record 36-ball century in Queenstown on January 1, Anderson looked flat and his coach Mike Hesson labelled him in need of a break. What better occasion, and opponent, for him to get back on track.

Arriving with 14 overs left, Anderson blasted 68 not out off 40 balls and lost two white Kookaburras. Twice he deposited India's frontline paceman Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami onto the Harris Stand with savage pull shots.

Kane Williamson (71 of 88) and Ross Taylor (55 off 82) batted sensibly, adding 121 and keeping New Zealand to the preferred formula of three wickets down at the 35 over mark.

India's bowlers were a mixed bag; Shami (4-55) the pick with a bolt upright seam that could cause New Zealand problems on green test pitches. 

Sharma was down on pace and struggled to land in the same spot twice while spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were handled comfortably and will get conditions more to their liking in Hamilton.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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