Hardik Pandya had a dream debut with the ball, the India bowlers, as a unit, did brilliantly and then the batsmen, led by who else but Virat Kohli, knocked down the modest target to give India victory in their 900th ODI. India's dominance over New Zealand on this tour shows no signs of stopping, with the comprehensive six-wicket win in Dharamsala giving MS Dhoni's men a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
After the Kiwis lost their fourth straight toss of the tour, and Dhoni decided to put the opposition into bat, the stage was set for New Zealand to post a big score on a flat, good-paced deck at the HPCA Stadium. However, instead, the India fast bowlers did splendidly with the new ball and coupled with some poor batting, New Zealand were bowled out for 190 in 43.5 overs.
Tom Latham and Tim Southee did their best, with the former even carrying his bat through the innings, but with the rest of the batsmen going missing, New Zealand left India with a rather comfortable score to chase.
The only way the Kiwis were going to make a fist of this match was by taking early wickets, but Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane got the home team off to a brisk start, hitting plenty of fours and sixes at a venue where the ball travels like greased lightning.
Once that positive start was given, there was only going to be one result, even after Rohit (14, 26b, 1x4, 1x6) and Rahane (33, 34b, 4x4, 2x6) fell to Doug Bracewell and Jimmy Neesham respectively.
Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey took India closer to the target with a 40-run partnership, before the vice-captain and captain Dhoni – the two best finishers in the side – saw India to the brink of victory, courtesy a 60-run alliance. Dhoni (21, 24b, 1x4, 1x6) would get run out, something that almost never happens, after a complete misunderstanding with his partner, with India needing 29 more, but with Kohli (89 n.o., 85b, 10x4, 1x6) in cruise control, the home side would finish the game off with 101 balls to spare – Kohli hitting the winning runs with a smashing six straight back over the bowler.
Earlier, New Zealand's score would have been for a score below 100 had it not been for Latham (79 n.o., 98b, 7x4, 1x6), who continued his fine form from the Test series. The left-hander, whose selection for this first ODI was questioned, considering Anton Devcich gives the Kiwis a bowling option as well, was calm, cool and collected as the batsmen at the other end kept losing their composure.
With the wicket doing just enough off the pitch, Hardik Pandya, given the new ball, and Umesh Yadav began really well for India. Martin Guptill was treated to a brilliant first over from his Mumbai Indians teammate Pandya, making his ODI debut, with the opener looking like escaping unscathed after a couple of edges went for boundaries.
However, off the last ball of that over, Guptill got an absolute peach, one that just went away off the pitch with Rohit Sharma doing the rest at second slip.
With Kane Williamson, so reliable, coming in and Latham, who had already played a couple of gorgeous cover drives, looking good at the other end, all New Zealand needed to do was ensure they would keep wickets in hand, but, unfortunately for the Kiwis, that plan did not work out.
Williamson top-edged one through to Amit Mishra off Umesh Yadav, before the fast bowler got his second wicket by sending Ross Taylor back first ball with a corker of a delivery. The hat-trick would not come, but the wickets would, with Pandya getting his second and third as Corey Anderson, caught brilliantly at mid-off by Umesh, and Luke Ronchi fell.
After a six-over stay with Latham, Jimmy Neesham (10, 25b, 1x4) would also depart, with Mitchell Santner following soon, for another golden duck – both wickets falling to part-timer Kedar Jadhav. That left New Zealand on 65/7, and while Doug Bracewell (15, 46b) and Latham ensured the score would go beyond 100 with an alliance of 41, New Zealand reached 190 only thanks to Southee and Latham's brilliant 71-run partnership.
Southee, dropped on two by Yadav, played some wonderful shots en route to his 55 (45b, 6x4, 3x4) – his highest score in ODI cricket and the highest by New Zealand No.10 – to give himself and the rest of the bowlers at least something to bowl at.
Scores: New Zealand: 190 all out in 43.5 overs.
India: 194/4 in 33.1 overs.
Result: India won by six wickets with 101 balls to spare.
Bowling: India: Umesh Yadav 8-0-31-2; Hardik Pandya 7-0-31-3; Jasprit Bumrah 8-1-29-0; Kedar Jadhav 3-0-6-2; Axar Patel 9-1-41-0; Amit Mishra 8.5-0-49-3.
New Zealand: Tim Southee 9-0-57-0; Doug Bracewell 8-2-44-1; Jimmy Neesham 6-0-40-1; Ish Sodhi 4.1-0-34-1; Mitchell Santner 6-0-18-0.
Fall of wickets: New Zealand: 14/1, Martin Guptill (2 overs); 29/2, Kane Williamson (5 overs); 33/3, Ross Taylor (6.1 overs); 43/4, Corey Anderson (10.4 overs); 48/5, Luke Ronchi (12.1 overs); 65/6, Jimmy Neesham (18.3 overs); 65/7, Mitchell Santner (18.4 overs); 106/8, Doug Bracewell (31.5 overs); 177/9, Tim Southee (41.3 overs); 190/10, Ish Sodhi (43.5 overs).
India: 49/1, Rohit Sharma (9.2 overs); 62/2, Ajinkya Rahane (12.1 overs); 102/3, Manish Pandey (19.3 overs); 162/4, MS Dhoni (28.4 overs).