Pace bowler Mohammed Shami took 5/54 on his return to the team and in his first game of the ongoing World Cup as India bowled out New Zealand for 273 in 50 overs at the HPCA Stadium here in Dharamsala.
Cheered by a crowd that built up as the sun went down, Shami gave India a toe-hold in the 34th over, scalping Rachin Ravindra (75 off 87 balls) when the Kiwis had looked to run away and put up a total in excess of 300. He then returned to take two late-order wickets in two balls – of hard-hitters Mark Chapman and Mitchell Santner — to reduce the Kiwis from 260/6 to 260/8 in the 48th over.
New Zealand No. 4 Daryl Mitchell batted almost through the innings, falling in the final over, to help New Zealand reach a total that is still expected to test the Indian batsmen for the first time in the tournament.
The Kiwis, who lost the toss and were put in to bat by Rohit Sharma, started poorly losing two wickets inside the first power-play and scoring at a slow pace with the first eight overs yielding only 19 runs.
However, both Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell added 159 in 152 balls to steer their ship. The two ensured that left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has looked unplayable so far in the tournament, was rendered ineffective and returned with 2/73 in his 10 overs.
It was the partnership between the two, helped by India’s Ravindra Jadeja spilling a simple chance to give Rachin Ravindra a life in the 11th over off Shami, which saw New Zealand milk 185 in the second power-play that lasts the 30 overs between the 10th and 40th overs.
When the Kiwis had entered the last 10 overs at 219/4, they were on way to a target of close to 300.
However, helped by Shami’s three wickets, including the above-mentioned two off two balls, and tight bowling by the rest of the Indian bowlers, the Kiwis could realise just 54 runs which may give India hope of a first win over their opponents in an ICC tournament in 20 years.