1st ODI: Versatile Virat Kohli's ton fails to save India against New Zealand
Give bat, will hit. That seems to be the mantra for Virat Kohli as the maverick batsman helped himself to a confident century (123 off 111) in a losing cause against hosts New Zealand in the first ODI.
On a pitch that required application from batsmen, India's Virat Kohli showed once again that he was at complete ease. The 25-year-old slammed 123 - his 18th ton in the 50-over format, in a match that New Zealand eventually claimed by 24 runs in Napier.
For New Zealand pacers, the strategy was simple - raw pace to bully India. And it worked to an extent. Defending 292, the hosts dislodged Rohit Sharma (3) early, while Shikhar Dhawan (32) failed to build on his start yet again. Ajinkya Rahane (7) and Suresh Raina (18) too failed to make an impression. Kohli at the other end though, was a pillar of strength and played his natural, aggressive game.
Coming to the middle at his usual number three spot, the batsman showed little regard for Tim Southee - a seasoned campaigner with 74 ODIs under his belt, and Adam Milne who hardly bowled below the 145kmph mark.
Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum used his pacers from either ends but while success came from one end, Kohli remained solid at the other and scored at a brisk pace, even hitting Nathan McCullum for a mammoth six - his fifty coming off 58 deliveries.
Kohli got much-needed support from the other end when skipper MS Dhoni (40 off 46) walked in. The two kept the score ticking at a steady pace and once the asking rate acquired daunting proportions, changed gears swiftly to unleash a flurry of boundaries once again - Kohli completing his century off 93 deliveries with 10 fours and one six.
His wicket eventually - going for the cover-drive off Mitchell McClenaghan but finding Jesse Ryder - gave Kiwis the breakthrough and despite some late hitting from Ravichandran Ashwin, India stopped 24 runs short with eight balls to spare.