New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum on Sunday termed his team's victory in the first ODI against world No. 1 team, India as "huge" and said the fact that the Kiwis came out on top despite Virat Kohli's century is a good sign. (Match report)
"The result today is huge for us. To start the series against what is a very good Indian team and then Virat Kohli performed as well as what he did. Yet we come out on top, it is a really good sign. I am delighted for the guys, delighted with today's performance," said McCullum at the post match press conference after his team's 24-run win over India.
Chasing 293, India lost the first ODI of the five-match series with Kohli's 111-ball 123 going down the drain. (Highlights)
McCullum said there were still four more matches to go and it would not be easy for the hosts. (Pics)
"There are still four tough games to go and India will get better as the tour goes on. But there is a little bit we can improve on as well," he said.
The captain applauded his batsmen for handling the spinners well and the bowlers for taking three quick wickets of Kohli, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to turn the match in Kiwis' favour.
"We played the spinners well. It doesn't turn a great deal here in Napier, so it could obviously be a different challenge in Hamilton. But the way we played the spinners, and also the two guys that we had at the crease against spinners are two of our best batters against spin bowling, their ability to put together a partnership through rotating the strike and picking up the odd boundary was key in allowing us that platform that we wanted," McCullum said, speaking about the 121-run third-wicket partnership between Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
"For the majority of the game, we were excellent. It was a good fight back. But when Kohli and Dhoni were putting together that partnership, we were obviously starting to slip.
But this is a funny game. You are only one or two wickets away from being right back in the driver's seat. Thankfully, we were able to get those wickets and put together what was a pretty good all-round performance," he added.
The star of the match for New Zealand was Corey Anderson, who first scored 68 off 40 balls, hitting three fours and four sixes to help push their score in the death overs, and then dismissed Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, returning 2-51 from 10 overs, completing an all-round match-winning performance. " He is not always going to keep scoring like that but as long as he is always trying to do that, that's fine. As long as he's doing the right thing in terms of attacking and trying to take wickets for us, then we know what we are going to get. He did it again today and he is certainly proving to be pretty good," said McCullum, praising this new-found talent.
But the wrecker-in-chief of the Indian innings was Mitchell McClenaghan, who took 4 for 68 in 10 overs and McCullum was all praise for him.
"He keeps producing results. He bounced out four batsmen today, which is great. That's the plan we wanted to implement and Mitch was a big part of that as well. He has the handy knack of picking up wickets at key times," said the Black Caps' skipper.
The plan worked well for New Zealand today as they unleashed a four-pronged pace attack but a side strain to their young fast bowler Adam Milne soured the mood a bit.
"When you bowl at that pace, there is always a risk that you are going to get injured. I feel for him at the moment, he is obviously very disappointed that he has come down with the injury. But the overs that he gave us were hostile and he performed the role that we asked of him. We will obviously have to assess him tomorrow but it is not great at the moment," McCullum revealed.