New Zealand pulled off their highest ever successful chase in ODI history when they beat India by four wickets in the series opener at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Wednesday. Opener Henry Nicholls said that the ODI unit isn’t carrying any scars from the 0-5 whitewash they suffered in the preceding T20I series. Also Read - ICC ODI Rankings: Kohli, Rohit Maintain Hold Over Top-Two Batting Slots as England And Ireland Players Move Upwards
“We didn’t feel it as part of the group coming in,” Nicholls said on Thursday. “So I wasn’t feeling any pressure and there is no need to prove anything. It was a small ground and a big chase, so it was nice we were able to do that.” Also Read - MS Dhoni Showed me The Real Picture Regarding 2019 World Cup: Yuvraj Singh
Nicholls was one of the top-performers from the New Zealand side having scored 78 off 82 to set the base. Also Read - BCCI to Impose Two-Year Ban on Players Committing Age, Domicile Fraud
Ross Taylor scored an unbeaten century while captain Tom Latham struck a quickfire 48-ball 69 as New Zealand chased down 348 in 48.1 overs to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series. “It was great, our biggest chase ever in ODI cricket and it was good to be able to contribute in it. In the past, playing India in India, we have had a couple of chases around the 300-mark and others we got close to. It was nice to do that again at home, and to actually win the game, it was great,” Nicholls said.
After losing two quick wicket, Nicholls and Taylor 62 runs for the third wicket to put their chase back on track. “Having someone like that (Taylor) at number four, especially with Kane Williamson not being there as well, the experience he brings is immense. It is not just about the runs, because batting with him in the middle, you keep having those conversations that help your batting too,” Nicholls said of his partnership with Taylor.
“The dimensions of the ground helped us and he certainly likes batting there. It was a great partnership and great knock from him. Ross being there till the end to be not out and win the game was immense for us,” he added.
The 28-year-old also praised the manner in which Latham paced his innings. “Tom and I have played together for a long time, so I have certainly seen him play like that before. He is very versatile and adaptive to the game scenario and conditions. The way he started, well it was slow, 2 off 10 balls or something. But he managed to put the pressure back on Kuldeep (Yadav) and their other spinners. Being captain he led from the front and that partnership changed the game for us,” said Nicholls, who has scored 1198 runs in 46 ODIs so far.
The shorter boundaries at the Seddon Park came into focus which Nicholls said ultimately worked in the home team’s favour. “The short boundary proved to be really important for us. There was some breeze as well in the evening. So whenever they bowled through the middle, or bowled short, we pushed back with boundaries. Their attacking bowlers couldn’t bowl with the bigger boundary and it played into our hands. Ross managed it pretty well and again for Tom to come to the crease, and attack the way he did, it really changed the game.”
“On a short ground, the credit goes to our bowlers who realised it could be a 360-370 score. But they kept it to a smaller score which could be chase down. For us as a batting unit, we know we can chase high scores on that small ground,” he said.
Despite talks of Latham returning to open the innings, Nicholls said he’s comfortable batting at any position and will do so as per the team’s demands. “Opening is not too different. I am used to batting in a few different spots. I was opening a bit for Canterbury coming into this series. So I am trying to form a new partnership up top with Martin Guptill, and get those platforms in,” he said.