Hamilton: Talented Shreyas Iyer hit his maiden century while KL Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli carried on their fine form as India dished out a clinical batting effort to post 347 for four against New Zealand in the first ODI here on Wednesday. Iyer showed why he is considered as the next big thing in Indian cricket, scoring 103 off 107 balls, his first ODI ton. Besides, Rahul continued his purple patch, smashing unbeaten 88 off 64 balls while Kohli made 51 off 63 deliveries.
Iyer’s knock was laced with 11 fours and a six and together with Rahul shared 136 runs for the fourth wicket as India scored 96 runs in the last 10 overs after being sent into bat. This was after Tom Blundell featured his maiden ODI for the Black Caps, while India gave debuts to two openers — Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal. It was the fourth such instance in Indian history with Rahul-Karun Nair being the last such pair in 2016 against Zimbabwe.
Shaw and Agarwal got the innings off to quick start, adding 50 off 48 balls for the opening stand. But both Shaw and Agarwal fell in the space of five balls as India were reduced to 54 for 2. Shaw was the first to go, nicking behind a Colin de Grandhomme (1/41) delivery, while Agarwal was caught at point by Blundell off Southee (2/85).
It brought Kohli and Iyer together, and they dominated the middle overs with a 102-run stand for the third wicket. They manoeuvred the field well and kept the scorecard ticking as India crossed 150 in the 28th over. Kohli fell against the run of play as a wrong one from Ish Sodhi (1/27) got through his defence to clip the leg stump. Rahul though didn’t let the innings lose any momentum as he smacked six sixes along with three fours.
But the day belonged to Iyer, who, despite a scratchy start, had crossed 50 off 66 balls. Once he passed the 50-run mark, the stylish right-hander batted fluently to notch up his first century in 16 ODIs. The centurion fell shortly afterwards, caught off Southee even as Rahul took control. He reached his half-century off 41 balls as India eased past 300 in the 47th over.
Rahul’s carnage meant that New Zealand conceded 191 runs in the last 20 overs. Kedar Jadhav remained unbeaten on 26 off 15 balls, stitching 55 off 27 balls with Rahul.