A 154-run opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma set India on course to a 90-run win over New Zealand in the second one-day cricket international on Saturday and a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Sharma made 87 and Dhawan 66 as India posted 324-4 after winning the toss and opting to bat. New Zealand mustered only 234 from 40.2 overs in reply for its second heavy defeat after losing the first match of the series by eight wickets.
While India has solidified its position as one of the favorites to win the 50-over World Cup in England in the middle of the year, New Zealand’s high expectations of its own chances have been re-calibrated after two crushing defeats.
India actually fell short of the total it should have achieved after Dhawan and Rohit were finally separated after 25 overs. Captain Virat Kohli made 43, Ambati Rayudu 47 and M.S. Dhoni an unbeaten 48 from 33 balls but India didn’t fully capitalize on the foundation set by the openers.
Dhawan carried his bat for 75 in the first match of the series in Napier.
At 173-2 after 30 overs India was on target for a total well in excess of 350 but it dawdled at times in the late stages of its innings, going 25 balls without a boundary after the 40th over. Only a spritely late partnership of 53 from 26 balls between Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, who hit 22 from 10 balls with three fours and a six, lifted India comfortably beyond 300.
“We never knew how the pitch was going to play to start with,” Sharma said. “As the game went on we understood what the pitch was like and what will be a par score here.
“The last time Sri Lanka and New Zealand played here it was a high-scoring game so when we got 324 on the board it was par but definitely not a winning score.”
New Zealand always seemed ill-equipped to chase down such a total, after being dismissed for 157 against the same India attack in the first match of the series. The New Zealand batsmen were at sea against the wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the first match and struggled again Saturday to cope with the spinners’ changes of pace and flight.
The New Zealand batsmen have shown failures of technique and shot selection in both matches and several fell on Saturday to ill-judged sweeps.
Yadav took 4-45 Saturday after taking 4-39 in the first match of the series. The New Zealand middle order was exposed early by the dismissal of openers Martin Guptill for 15 and Colin Munro for 31 from 41 balls.
Chahal dismissed Munro lbw, hit in the stomach as he stooped in front of middle stump to play an awkward reverse sweep. Chahal also caught Guptill from the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson seemed determined to wrest the initiative in the match from India, hitting two sixes and a four to dash to 20 from only 11 balls before chopping a ball from Mohammed Shami onto his own stumps.
Dhoni pulled off a slick stumping to remove Ross Taylor (22) from the bowling of Jadhav, and Yadav then dismissed Tom Latham (34), Henry Nicholls (28), and Colin de Grandhomme and Ish Sodhi with consecutive deliveries.
Allrounder Doug Bracewell brought some life to New Zealand’s run chase late in the innings, reaching a maiden one-day international half-century from 35 balls before being out for 57, the innings’ top score.
Williamson said New Zealand’s back-to-back losses to India were “a little bit frustrating.”
“It’s not so much the losing, it’s just the way we’re losing,” he said. “But, having said that, credit to India, they’re playing really well.
“I suppose both surfaces now have offered the slow bowlers a little bit more than we expected but they’ve both been good surfaces. We showed glimpses in the chase but we just didn’t put it together long enough.”