Cricket: Record stand powers Black Caps to remarkable win

Kane Williamson congratulates Tom Latham on his stunning century against India. Photo / photosport.nz

With the Black Caps starting a new World Cup cycle shorn of a couple greats, it was only fitting for two more to carry them to victory tonight.

Tom Latham and Kane Williamson celebrated a record fourth-wicket stand and, with it, a remarkable seven-wicket victory over India at Eden Park, chasing down what had appeared an imposing total with 17 balls to spare.

After India had racked up a total of 306-7, Latham joined Williamson at the crease with the hosts on 88-3 in the 20th over. The skipper and his heir apparent then put together a scintillating stand of 221 runs from 165 balls, setting a New Zealand record as Latham struck his seventh ODI century and finished unbeaten with a new high score of 145 from 104 deliveries.

Latham was part of the previous mark of 200 sets in 2017, joining Ross Taylor on that occasion. With Taylor having retired earlier in the year, and with Trent Boult and Martin Guptill recently opting out of their central contracts, this is a Black Caps team in transition.

It is also one still capable of thrilling crowds and knocking over quality opposition, taking a 1-0 lead in this three-match series as both sides begin preparations for next year’s World Cup.

The win being so comfortable certainly bodes well for the Black Caps’ prospects of remaining a team to be reckoned with come tournament time. It was their first victory since losing out in the semifinals of the T20 World Cup, a result that was followed by a T20 series defeat against India.

Latham proved a match-winning addition to that side. He was well placed tonight on 63 from 62 before turning the game, accelerating to three figures in the space of 14 destructive deliveries.

Williamson (94no from 98) was the steady hand throughout, playing just his seventh ODI since the last World Cup and his first in New Zealand since February 2020.

Together, they made light work of a target that had been built by a 124-run opening stand between Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill, with Shreyas Iyer (80 off 76) and Washington Sundar (37no off 16) finishing with a flourish.

Tim Southee became the fifth New Zealander to take 200 ODI wickets but was the most expensive of today’s quintet, finishing with 3-73. Lockie Ferguson also snared three scalps but that pair and Adam Milne – playing his first ODI since 2017 – conceded 199 runs from 30 overs.

It hardly needed mentioning that the Black Caps missed Boult – the same will be true of every international they play while he pursues other opportunities. And with Jimmy Neesham absent with a niggle, only five bowlers were utilised.

India were also without a handful of first-choice players, but even their vocal fans would have almost forgotten about Virat Kohli by the end of their innings.

Dhawan and Gill batted together for 23 overs and scored at 5.4 while offering only one real chance, with Ferguson unable to complete a tough low catch at deep third man after Henry had induced a thick edge from Gill.

The openers eventually fell in consecutive overs when beginning to push the pace and Latham could have made it three in quick succession had he claimed a leaping catch when Iyer was on 11.

But the wicketkeeper mistimed his jump and Iyer quickly began to lift the scoring rate. India had progressed to 210-4 with 10 overs to bat when Sundar showed his finishing threat, helping the tourists collect 63 runs from the final five to set up a formidable but, with the dimensions, achievable chase.

Tom Latham and Kane Williamson put together a record stand.  Photo / photosport.nz
Tom Latham and Kane Williamson put together a record stand. Photo / photosport.nz

Those short boundaries saw Finn Allen hook the first six of the innings as the Black Caps reached 33-0 after five overs. The opener was then granted a life in the eighth over as Yuzvendra Chahal put down a simple chance, but survived only another two balls before feathering an edge behind.

The hosts were on 68-1 after 15, boosted by Williamson pulling twice to the fence to end a nine-over period in which only one boundary was struck. But with he and Conway set, the opener fell in similar fashion to Allen before Daryl Mitchell was caught cheaply.

With Latham joining Williamson, the required rate crept near eight, placing some pressure on the experienced pair considering the long tail to come. Both batsmen, though, appeared buoyed not bowed by that responsibility.

Watch every match of the Black Caps v India series live on Spark Sports

Williamson brought up his 40th ODI 50, positioning his side promisingly on 150-3 after 30 overs, and Latham soon followed his skipper in raising his bat, having survived an lbw review of desperation by India.

The tourists would have been feeling even worse when Williamson was put down to begin the 36th over, with Dhawan unable to repeat his batting feats while failing to snag a low chance that barely carried to midwicket.

And anguish would have been the fielders’ overriding feeling in a 25-run 40th over, as Latham pulled Shardul Thakur for six before cracking four straight fours and topping it off by celebrating his ton.

That left the equation in the Black Caps’ favour, needing 66 runs from the final 60 balls, and left the experienced duo an opportunity to cruise to victory in front of their increasingly awed fans.

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