While most fans were anticipating a run fest in the India vs New Zealand warm-up game, India’s dominant batting line-up was bundled out for only 179 runs. On a green Oval surface, Trent Boult dominated the game with figures of 4 for 33, while Jimmy Neesham played a perfect second fiddle to Boult with figures of 3 for 26.
The Kiwi openers fell early but half-centuries from Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson helped them cross the line with six wickets and 13 overs to spare.
Having won the toss, skipper Virat Kohli chose to bat first. With the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli himself, India’s top-order looks formidable. But it was Boult’s good day in the office, who struck thrice with the new ball.
Openers Rohit and Dhawan were dismissed on only two runs each, while Kohli, one of the best chasers in the game, fell to Colin de Grandhomme for 18 runs. KL Rahul was given an opportunity on India’s most debatable number four slot, but he failed to capitalise on it, becoming Boult’s third victim with the new ball.
Hardik Pandya (30) and MS Dhoni (17) looked settled for a good partnership, but Neesham’s bowling in the middle overs reduced India to 115-8. The only Indian batsman who spent more than half an hour on the crease was Ravindra Jadeja, whose crucial 50-ball 54 helped India post 179 in 39.2 overs.
Jadeja’s inclusion in the World Cup squad had confused many, because Kedar Jadhav, ever since January 2018, has been preferred as the second all-rounder after Hardik Pandya. And then, there is Vijay Shankar too.
However, in the absence of Jadhav and Shankar, both of whom are caressing niggles, Jadeja has likely warranted himself a place in the starting XI. Not only did he top score for India, but the manner in which he did it – dominating the spinners and protecting his strike – was interesting to watch. That he is inarguably the best fielder in the side doesn’t even need a mention.
Meanwhile, New Zealand required only 180 runs to win, a chase very few teams can go wrong with. Colin Munro began the chase with a four off the very first ball, but a swinging Yorker from Jasprit Bumrah had him walking back without adding any more runs. The other opener, Martin Guptill played some fancy shots before being removed by Hardik Pandya on 22.
Just when it looked like India were slowly coming back into the game, New Zealand’s two best batsmen – Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor – made half-centuries each to gun down the target in 37 overs.
Apart from India’s spineless batting performance, another concern from the game was their poor fielding. Chahal completely misjudged an easy catch when Taylor was on three runs, while Karthik repeated the same when the batsman was on 41. Taylor got a third life when Pandya, one of the better fielders in the team, missed an easy run-out opportunity.
This game served as a perfect platform for India to figure out their starting XI. If Jadeja strikes once again in India’s second and last warm-up game against Bangladesh, Jadhav and Shankar’s place in the team could be in a spot of bother.