Young India too strong for Kiwis
Virat Kohli's sparkling century helped India script a 40-run win against an injury-hit New Zealand in the first One-day International to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series in Guwahati on Sunday.
Chasing a challenging target of 277 at the Nehru Stadium here, New Zealand were short on experience with skipper Daniel Vettori and explosive opener Brendon McCullum missing out due to back injuries as the visitors were all out for 236 in 45.2 overs.
Stand-in skipper Ross Taylor top-scored for the Kiwis with a fighting 66 from 69 balls studded with three sixes and three boundaries.
Image: Indian players celebrate after winning the first ODI against New Zealand in Guwahati
Indian openers off to a decent start
Earlier Kiwi new ball bowlers, Mills and Tuffey, extracted some fine seam movements early on as openers Vijay (29) and Gambhir (38) survived some anxious moments in the early morning start.
The Indian duo however did not look under any pressure they stitched 44 for the opening wicket before Vijay was caught behind the stumps by Gareth Hopkins off Tuffey.
Kohli, who joined the skipper soon settled into nice rhythm, and shared a 48-run stand for the second wicket.
Image: New Zealand's Kyle Mills speaks with Gautam Gambhir during their first ODI match in Guwahati
Yuvraj gets a good run in middle
Due for a big knock, Yuvraj was slow and watchful to start that saw India scoring just 17 in the five overs in the bowling powerplay from 10-15 overs.
Having consumed 28 balls for his first eight runs, Yuvraj opened up to the New Zealand spin attack that missed Vettori sorely as Nathan McCullum and Kane Williamson bowled their conventional off-breaks.
Kohli, meanwhile, raced to his ninth half-century in a rather nondescript way but he ensured that they were on track for a big total.
In their 88-run stand for the third wicket, Kohli was compact and flexible in rotating the strike while Yuvraj looked to score in boundaries before he edged one behind the stumps.
Image: Yuvraj Singh plays a shot during the first ODI against New Zealand in Guwahati
Kohli completes yet another hundred
Kohli at the other end continued to pile on runs and completed his fourth century in ODIs.
Indian batting sort of collapsed after Yuvraj's dismissal as India lost wickets at regular intervals.
A jaded Suresh Raina (13) continued with his poor Test run into the ODIs, as the southpaw lasted 18 balls before becoming Mills' victim.
Kohli too lost his wicket, when he went for a big hit after 104-ball innings. His innings included ten hits to the fence.
But the inexperience was shown as India lost wickets in order accelerate the scoring.
Yusuf Pathan played a cameo (29) laced with three fours and one six, as debutant Wriddhiman Saha (4), Ravichandran Ashwin (0), Ashish Nehra (0) and Sreesanth (1) were dismissed cheaply.
Image: Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring a hundred against New Zealand in Guwahati
Kiwis off to a cautious start
With no McCullum, the New Zealand openers of Jamie How and Martin Guptill lacked the firepower as the visitors were slow and cautious to start with.
Nehra broke the opening stand for 32 scalping How (9) as his partner Guptill, after being dropped twice by Murali Vijay, did not last long departing for 30.
Stand-in skipper Taylor held the fort even as wickets kept falling in at the other end with Yuvraj doing a great job for India with his slow left-arm orthodox spin.
Image: Ashish Nehra celebrates after picking up Jamie How
Yuvraj, Sreesanth, Ashwin pick three wickets each
Taylor and Kane Williamson (19) looked good during their 67-run third wicket stand but Yuvraj did not let the partnership going.
Just when Taylor was beginning to look dangerous with his towering sixes, Ashwin gave the crucial breakthrough as New Zealand were reduced to 154 for seven after 33.3 overs.
Under intense scrutiny, Yuvraj Singh failed with the bat but he was really effective with his bowling claiming three for 43 from his full quota of 10 overs, while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took a career-best three for 50 to help India take the series lead.
At 169 for eight, New Zealand looked to give up easily but Nathan McCullum (35) and Kyle Mills (32) produced a 67-run ninth wicket stand to give India some tough time in the middle.
But Sreesanth (3/67) broke the partnership dismissing Nathan and Mills with the former being brilliantly caught by skipper Gambhir as India won the match with 28 balls to spare.
Image: S Sreesanth bowls during the first ODI against New Zealand