India dominated New Zealand in the test series and won that comfortably 3-0 under Kohli’s leadership. The trend continued in the ODI format with an easy win in the first ODI at Dharamsala as India asserted their dominance over the Kiwis. Dhoni was back at the helm as he is India’s designated ODI and T20 captain.
MS Dhoni won the toss and surprised many when he elected to field. The Indian batting line-up lacked experienced and depth but Dhoni’s decision to bowl first paid off as the Kiwis suffered a batting collapse thanks to some great bowling by debutant H Pandya who sent down 7 overs for 31 runs and took 3 wickets. He was supported well by U Yadav who took 2 wickets and leg-spinner A Mishra who took 3 wickets.
The Kiwis were 8 for 106 and looked like being bowled out cheaply before fast bowler Tim Southee who missed the test series due to injury played a cameo and hit 55 in just 45 balls to take the Kiwis to a respectable 190 all out. Opening batsman T Latham held the innings together with a well compiled 79 and was the only batsman who looked in form.
India had a shaky start losing R Sharma for just 14 runs and A Rahane for 33. However Kohli took center stage and formed partnerships with Pandey, Dhoni and K Jadhav to take India home. Kohli was involved in a run out with MS Dhoni earlier but maintained his composure to stay at the crease and take India home with a unbeaten 85 that included a six to take India home.
The Kiwis will want to pick themselves up and win the next ODI as if they lose two in a row they will realize that it will be difficult for them to win the 5 match series. India is playing with a weaker side after resting the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja who are regulars in the ODI format. India need to win the series 4-1 to move up a place in the ICC ranking and Dhoni will dearly like that as the Indian ODI team under his leadership has not performed as well as they would have liked since 2015.
Dhoni will like to win the NZ series convincingly with the Champions Trophy just around the corner as a poor performance in the NZ series and the Champions Trophy will put Dhoni’s captaincy under pressure with Kohli performing well in the test series.