Match Report | New Zealand vs India | 1st ODI | Dominant New Zealand outclassed India to take a 1-0 lead in the series
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images
After losing the one-off T20I, India were up against New Zealand in the 1st ODI of the 5-match bilateral series. Despite a disappointing 2021 season in international cricket, New Zealand were coming with a winning momentum from the T20I and had match practice under their belt as they played a month-long Super Smash and the HBJ season. India, on the other hand, had no match practice since the Challengers Trophy in December and had to go through several quarantine periods.
Indian captain Mithali Raj won the toss and elected to bowl first. On a batting surface like that at the John Davies Oval and the impeccable chasing record India had, it wasn’t any surprise. Smriti Mandhana, Renuka Singh Thakur, and Meghna Singh missed out as they are going through a compulsory MIQ as they tested Covid+ in Mumbai and after which they traveled. So, they were out of selection and backup opener S. Meghana made her debut in the ODIs.
Suzie Bates stamps her authority
After undergoing shoulder surgery in December 2020, Bates made a comeback into the mix last year. But she was yet to find her groove back. Maddy Green had been promoted as an opener alongside Bates. In the 4th over, Bates tried to slice away over the point against Vastrakar but the ball went through Gayakwad’s hands. And this drop cost India massively. Bates with her great footwork didn’t let the bowlers settle and continued to tamper their line and length. She was playing brilliantly square of the wicket, pulling anything short to the fence.
India’s pacers couldn’t give any breakthrough in the first spell but it was India’s spinners who brought them back into the game. Green was struggling at the other end and eventually threw her wicket to Sharma on 17 (28). Amelia Kerr came to the crease when New Zealand were 54 for 1 in the 13th over. Both Bates and Kerr were struggling at that moment to find boundaries against the spinners. But introducing the part-timer Kaur into the attack even when regular bowlers were doing a good job was a tactical error from the Indian side. Kerr started to sweep away Kaur’s bad balls to the leg side and broke the shackles. Bates then reached her 50 in the 19th over and both of them started to take on the bowlers.
Kiwis reached the three figures before Kerr’s departure in the 23rd over. They needed to build another big partnership and vice-captain Amy Satterthwaite was up for the job. Both of them put up a partnership of 98 runs. On the last ball of the 36th over, Bates reached her 11th century before she got out in the next over on 106 (111). Satterthwaite also raised her bat to celebrate her poised 50.
When White Ferns were cruising towards 300+ runs, Indian bowlers wrestled back and caused a collapse in the lower order. When Bates got out, they were 204-3 in 37 overs. But Vastrakar, Goswami, and Gayakwad took 2-wickets each in the death overs and wrapped NZ’s innings for 275 with 11 balls remaining. It was a very good bowling effort from the Indian bowlers, but they still needed to chase down the biggest total they had ever chased in the ODIs to win the opening game.
Mithali-Yastika partnership sets a batting template amidst India’s disappointing outing with the bat
Debutant Meghana and Verma had a steep chase in their hands. The first two overs were maidens. From there, Meghana and Verma responded well and tonked some glorious boundaries. But Tahuhu found the edge of Meghana’s bat in the 5th over and Verma missed a lower full toss to be out LBW against Devine which reduced India to 17-2.
India needed a mammoth partnership at that moment and some stability which skipper Mithali Raj offered the team for and she was again in the same situation to rescue her team out. Young Yastika showed patience and maturity alongside her skipper. They took their time in the beginning but later steered the innings with aplomb. Where Mithali was dissecting the ball through covers, Bhatia was pulling anything short with precision to the boundary. They put up an 88-runs partnership to bring the innings back on track. Raj scored her 60th half-century.
Devine with her proactive captaincy was mixing the bowlers. Jensen gave the breakthrough of Bhatia in the 25th over by delivering a short one at the body to tempt her in playing an aerial shot and Green made no mistake underneath it. Then Jess Kerr scalped two of the most prized wickets of both captain and vice-captain and half of the batters were back in the hut. Cameos from Ghosh (22), Sharma (16), Vastrakar (23) were not enough to chase down 276. And they bundled out in just 213. Jess Kerr took a 4-fer and Bates was adjudged as the Player of the Match for her magnificent 106.
Where did India go wrong?
Bowling: India went with only two pacers in Goswami and Vastrakar but they came up with a variety in spin-attack. They fielded both the leggie Poonam Yadav and left-armer Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Amongst the off-spinners, Deepti Sharma got the nudge over Sneh Rana for her effective bowling. The spinners overall did a decent job for the Indian team. But using part-timer Harman over the regular spinners backfired for them. Pacers also lately came into their colours but India did miss the 3rd seamer in windy conditions of the John Davies Oval. Whereas, New Zealand came up with 5 pacers and only one spinner. Also, an in-swing bowler like Jess Kerr troubled Indian batters the most took a 4-fer as well. India missed a similarly capable bowler in Shikha Pandey.
Fielding: Bowling always becomes better and effective when it has been complemented by good fielding. And on a batting pitch, it becomes more important to grab every rare opportunity your bowlers create. Catching fielding has always been a concern for India and New Zealand’s breezy conditions makes it tougher to judge. But India’s ground fielding basics are massively flawed since their comeback in the international arena after a 1-year break due to Covid-19. NZ batters were toying with the fielding and taking easy singles and doubles even after hitting straight to the fielders. The lack of urgency and game awareness at this level of the game is worrying and nullifies the chances even to win any game, let alone the World Cup. This kind of sloppy fielding costed India massively. When they dropped Bates, she was on just 14 and came out as a centurion.
Young wicket-keeper Richa Ghosh was also not in a good shape behind the stumps. She gets the edge because of her batting, but both in her batting and keeping have been under par.
Batting: In the batting, India couldn’t make big partnerships. The only big partnership of 88 runs came from Bhatia and Raj’s bat. Where Kiwis made three 50+ partnerships at the top and Bates was the mainstay. No big individual contributions from the bat apart from Raj (59) and Bhatia (41) is a big concern for the Indian batting. The inability to rotate the strike from the lower middle-order and not been able to score big runs apart from little cameos of 20s need to be addressed. Verma who is not playing her natural attacking game and yet to settle in the ODI format raises the question over Rodrigues’ exclusion even more.
New Zealand had a batting depth of till 11. Plenty of all-rounders offer this depth. But India have more specialized players for specific roles. Vastrakar was the only recognized all-rounder in the playing XI. Deepti is also a very good all-rounder. But her strike-rate as a finisher is not ideal and Harman’s form with both bat and ball is not convincing and near to her famous 171*. And when a very impactful all-rounder Rana is still warming the bench who made crucial contributions in India’s wins last year, tough calls need to be taken.
New Zealand – 275 (48.1) S. Bates 106 (111), A. Satterthwaite 63 (67); R. Gayakwad 2/28 (7.1), J. Goswami 2/58 (10)
India – 213 (49.4) M. Raj 59 (73), Y. Bhatia 41 (63); J. Kerr 4/35 (9.4), H. Jensen 2/36 (8)