50 overs India 306 for 7 (Iyer 80, Dhawan 72, Gill 50, Ferguson 3-59, Southee 3-73) vs. New Zealand
After being put in, Dhawan and Gill set the platform by adding 124 in 23.1 overs, their fourth century standing in nine innings. New Zealand hit back in the middle overs and for a while it looked like they might succeed in keeping India to 300. But Iyer and Sanju Samson provided the impetus with their 94-run stand off just 77 for the fifth the wicket. Washington then smashed an unbeaten 37 off 16 balls to cap it off.
Earlier, a niggle to James Neesham somewhat upset New Zealand’s balance as they were forced to play four frontline seamers alongside Mitchell Santner.
As the new ball moved around, Dhawan and Gill started alertly. They faced 44 dot balls in the first ten overs and the scoring rate was under four after 14.
There were a few moments of intent though. Dhawan used his feet to drive Tim Southee to the cover boundary and Gill took two sixes, chipped Matt Henry over long on and later ramped him over deep third. On the whole, the New Zealand seamen hardly bowled any bad balls.
During this period, Gill also got a life. In the tenth over, he went for a full delivery from Henry, only to end up slicing it towards deep third. Lockie Ferguson stormed in, dived and just got his fingers under the ball. But it didn’t stick.
It was Dhawan who eventually stepped up and hit Ferguson for back-to-back fours in the 15th over. Three overs later, he took two more fours from Adam Milne and then reached his half-century, off 63 balls, with another four from him. Gill joined the action by hitting Santner for a straight six as India took 34 runs in three overs.
Gill reached his fifty in 63 balls but fell soon after, kicking Ferguson straight to deep square leg. In the next run, Southee got Dhawan to cut back for his 200th ODI wicket, becoming the fifth New Zealand man to achieve the feat.
These two wickets put the brakes on the scoring rate, with Iyer and Rishabh Pant managing just ten runs from over 27 to 31. Milne could have sent Iyer back as he failed to get the height of a ramp shot. But Tom Latham failed to time his jump behind the stumps and grabbed the chance.
Pant’s scrappy knock of 15 off 23 ended when he pulled a short delivery from Ferguson onto his stumps. Suryakumar Yadav opened his account with a sublime four off the first ball, but two balls later Ferguson had him caught at first slip.
Iyer and Samson consolidated a bit before opening up. Both the batsmen enjoyed the pace of the bat and changed the rhythm of the innings with their batting. Iyer preferred the aerial route while Samson hit more along the ground.
Samson fell for a 38-ball 36 but Iyer continued. After bringing up his fifty off 56 balls, he went for an all-out attack. From the other end, Washington put everything from an on-the-up drive to a pull to a falling lap shot to pick up the boundaries.
Iyer fell in the last over for 80 off 76 balls, but India’s late acceleration meant they scored 96 in the last ten overs to post what Washington called “a par total”. They have an inexperienced bowling attack to defend it. Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik make their debuts and there is no sixth bowling option either.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo