Electric Latham, calm Williamson give New Zealand win with lots to spare

Firstpost

Rohit Singh

Modified Nov 25, 2022 4:39 PM IST

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Tom Latham extended his superb record against India, scoring an unbeaten 145 off 104 balls, while Kane Williamson demonstrated exceptional calmness, as expected, to finish on 94 not out off 98 balls in the first ODI in Auckland. Together, they added 221 off 165 balls in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand to help New Zealand chase down India’s 306 for 7 with seven wickets and 17 balls to spare, and give them a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

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New Zealand, the No. 1 ODI side in the world, are now unbeaten for the last 13 ODIs at home. Earlier, half-centuries from Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill, and a cameo from Washington Sundar, took India to a decent score. At the break, Washington said it was a par total, but it didn’t turn out to be in the end. India were playing an inexperienced bowling attack, with Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik making their debuts in the format. They were further hamstrung by the absence of a sixth bowling option, especially when the chase got close.

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Williamson and Latham ensured it didn’t impact them at all

In the last 11 overs, New Zealand needed 91 with seven wickets in hand. A couple of quick wickets and India could have been in the hunt, but that’s when Latham shifted the game decisively towards New Zealand. Shardul Thakur, till that point, had figures of 1 for 29 from seven overs. In the 40th over, he went for 25, with Latham smashing four fours and a six. India changed the field after almost every boundary but Latham was unstoppable. Thakur also helped him by repeatedly bowling short and, at times, down the leg side.

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At the start of that over, Latham was on 77. By the end of it, he had raised his seventh ODI hundred, off just 76 balls. Latham’s onslaught reduced the equation to 66 needed from 60 balls. By the time New Zealand crossed the finishing line, he was toying with the bowling, punching the fast bowlers through the covers, pulling them to whatever region caught his fancy, and even reverse-sweeping Yuzvendra Chahal behind the keeper with the back of the bat. The winning runs, too, came with a four, via Williamson’s trademark dab to deep third.