Pacers give India unassailable series lead as Raipur makes roaring international debut

Indian teammates celebrating after taking a wicket against New Zealand during a 2nd ODI at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium, Raipur on Saturday. (UNI)
Indian teammates celebrating after taking a wicket against New Zealand during a 2nd ODI at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium, Raipur on Saturday. (UNI)

RAIPUR, Jan 21:  India’s relentless pace attack ran through a fragile New Zealand batting line-up as the hosts cantered to an eight-wicket win in the second ODI to seal the three-match series here on Saturday.

The Mohammed Shami-led attack produced an incisive effort to bowl out New Zealand for a meagre 108 before India knocked off the runs in 20.1 overs. Rohit Sharma hit a sublime 50 off 51 balls while Shubman Gill remained unbeaten on 40 off 53 deliveries.

It was an emphatic win but the sea of fans that had flocked the remotely located Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium for Raipur’s first international game was left wanting for more due to the early finish.

Shami (3/18) and Mohammed Siraj (1/10) made life tough for the batters with their high-quality seam bowling reducing New Zealand to a dismal 15 for five after Rohit opted to bowl. The odd ball stopping made the New Zealand batters’ job tougher though the Indian openers made batting look easy in the evening.

The third and final ODI will be played in Indore on Tuesday.

New Zealand opener Finn Allen was the first to depart after missing a full ball that came back in late to clip the pads and shatter the stumps. Siraj then got one to seam away from good length inducing an outside edge from number three Henry Nicholls with Gill doing the rest in the slips.

Two brilliant return catches from Shami and Hardik Pandya (2/16) put New Zealand in further trouble. Shami got one to shape away and Daryl Mitchell, in his attempt to flick it on the on-side, ended up mistiming it back to the bowler.

Hardik’s one-handed catch to get rid of Devon Conway in the 10th over was sensational. Shardul Thakur (1/26) got himself into the wicket column in the following over by drawing a thick edge from Tom Latham’s bat. It was a loose shot from the New Zealand skipper, ending with an easy catch to Gill in the slips.

New Zealand were in dire straits but all hope was not lost with last match’s centurion Michael Bracewell (22) and the equally dangerous Glenn Phillips (36) in the middle.

Bracewell made his intent clear by stepping out to whack Shami over cover. After getting hit for consecutive fours in the 19th over, Shami bowled a sharp bouncer and Bracewell went for the pull only to edge it back to the keeper.

Mitchell Santner (27), who scored a fifty in Hyderabad, joined Phillips and the duo took the team past 100 with a 47-run stand for the seventh wicket. However, both were dismissed in a space of six balls to end New Zealand’s hopes of a recovery.

While Santner played a well-disguised slower ball from Hardik on to the stumps, Phillips gave a regulation catch to Suryakumar Yadav at deep midwicket off a long hop from Washington Sundar (2/7).

Kuldeep Yadav (1/29) trapped number 11 Blair Tickner in front to end the New Zealand innings in 34.3 overs.

India were clinical in the run chase with Rohit enthralling the crowd with his trademark pull shots. One of them went for a six, the first maximum of the game, as he hooked Lockie Ferguson over fine-leg.

Fresh from a double hundred in Hyderabad, Gill too came up with some exquisite strokes, including a cracking cover drive off Ferguson.

The New Zealand pacers failed to get as much seam movement as their Indian counterparts, making the task easier for the batters.

Rohit completed his fifty with a single in the 13th over before Shipley had him leg before wicket with a ball that kept low.

Virat Kohli received the loudest cheer from the crowd as usual but could only last nine balls as Santner got the better of him for the second time in as many games.  (PTI)