Black Caps were again soundly beaten by India in the second of five one-dayers against India on Saturday in Mount Maunganui.
On a seemingly thankless Bay Oval deck for bowlers, India reached 324-4 in their 50 overs with Rohit Sharma (87 off 96 balls), Shikhar Dhawan (66 off 67), Virat Kohli (43 off 45), Ambati Rayudu (47 off 49) all profiting before MS Dhoni added the cream with 48 not out off 33 balls.
In reply, New Zealand were dismissed for 234 in 40.2 overs – bolstered by a career-best 57 with the bat from Doug Bracewell batting at No 8, giving India victory by 90 runs.
The result put NZ in a 2-0 hole and emphasised there is great need for improvement prior to this year’s World Cup in England and Wales starting in late May.
With veteran swing bowler Tim Southee and left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner omitted from the side heavily defeated in Napier, Colin de Grandhomme made his first white-ball appearance of the home summer and leggie Ish Sodhi got another chance to impress.
Bracewell made his case with the bat to stay a contender for an all-rounder’s spot with 57 off 46 balls (three sixes and five fours) after his wicket-less 10 overs went for 59.
There are small margins of error and fortuity in elite international cricket, as the 28-year-old discovered on Saturday. He was centimetres away from removing Dhawan in his second over, when the left-hander inside-edged a ball past his stumps – and repeated the move – later in Bracewell’s first spell.
The right-hander chiefly bowled a tight line and length, but at 130kph and with little movement through the air, he’s prone to being picked off by the game’s best when he strays. Such was the case against Dhawan and Sharma, while Kohli also found the medium-pacer’s second spell without threat.
De Grandhomme hadn’t played any cricket – either internationally or domestically – since New Zealand’s second-test win over Sri Lanka that ended on December 30.
Most Kiwis tend to be a tad sluggish at this time of year after indulging on vacation so it was hardly surprisingly de Grandhomme looked rustier than a discarded bicycle in August.
His trundling medium-pacers didn’t bother the visitors and he was again worryingly all at sea against spin in his brief batting sojourn.
The Black Caps celebrate a catch by Colin de Grandhomme to dismiss Rohit Sharma at Bay Oval.
Sodhi went without a wicket in his 10 overs, conceding 43 – which, given India’s proficiency against spin, a thankless wicket and an introduction after 10 overs with the visitors sitting pretty represented a solid outing. Given long-standing concerns over his fielding, his catch off Kohli was also pleasing.
New Zealand’s last 12 overs looked like being their best, sparked by Trent Boult (2-61) removing a threatening Kohli.
But Lockie Ferguson conceded 21 off the last over, most of them to that wondrous finisher MS Dhoni.
Ferguson’s figures of 2-81 off 10 overs will engender debate. He conceded an unpalatable 11 fours and three sixes but along with Boult was the only wicket-taking danger.
“If we can get three wickets in the first 10 overs, we know what pressure that puts on the rest of the team in the shed.”
India got close to doing so, removing two of NZ’s most prolific all-time ODI batsmen within 47 balls.
Martin Guptill, like Dhawan, was also fortunate to last more than one ball as the tourists missed a run-out opportunity when NZ began their pursuit.
His second slice of luck came when Dhoni put down an edge off Kumar when the right-handed opener was on 12 but he only made another three before ramping Kumar to third man.
Skipper Kane Williamson was a man in a hurry, hitting 18 off the first four balls of Mohammed Shami’s fourth over before inside-edging the next one onto his castle.
Colin Munro’s ugly lbw to Yuzvendra Chahal after getting to 31 off 41 balls rather summed up his current woes while Dhoni’s swift hands stopped Ross Taylor from becoming a factor.
A heavier defeat was only avoided by Bracewell’s bold hitting, heaping the pressure on NZ to be better at the same venue on Monday.
SCOREBOARD: India 324-4 in 50 overs (R Sharma 87, S Dhawan 66, M Dhoni 48no, A Rayudu 47, V Kohli 43) beat New Zealand 234 all out in 40.2 overs (D Bracewell 57; K Yadav 4-45) by 90 runs.