AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Tom Latham made a career-best 145 and captain Kane Williamson scored 94 in an unbroken partnership of 221 which lifted New Zealand to a seven-wicket win over India on Friday in the first of three one-day internationals.
The match was in the balance when Latham joined Williamson with New Zealand at 88-3 in the 20th over in reply to India’s seemingly formidable 306-7. They stayed together for the remainder of the match and steered the Kiwis to victory at 309-3 with 17 balls remaining.
At first Williamson was the senior partner and Latham played a loyal support role. But nearing the 40th over that hierarchy changed and Latham sprinted ahead of his captain. He struck 23 runs from the 40th over bowled by Shardul Thakur to go from 77 to a century — his seventh in one-day internationals — from 76 balls.
Latham had taken his early runs from dabs behind square on both sides of the wicket, using the pace of the ball to reach the short boundaries at third man and fine leg. Suddenly, as if a switch had been thrown, he began to launch the slower bowlers through and over mid-wicket as his personal total and his partnership with Williamson grew rapidly.
Williamson had been short of his best form at the T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this month and in the rain-affected Twenty20 series which India recently won 1-0, though he made 61 of New Zealand’s 126 in the second match.
Williamson fought his way back to form Friday with fierce application, setting out from the start to give solidity to New Zealand’s stuttering innings. Latham’s arrival at the crease and his similar dedication seemed to energize Williamson who was playing only his seventh one-day international since the final of the 2019 World Cup.
His innings included his 40th half century in one-day internationals and saw him pass 3,000 runs in ODIs in New Zealand.
Williamson and Latham both are steeped in the mysteries of Eden Park, a specialist rugby ground which often confounds touring teams. In cricket mode it offers an irregular oblong playing area with short boundaries at each end, long square boundaries and odd corners where extra runs often can be found. Latham used the quirks of the ground to full effect.
“I guess it was one of those days when everything comes off,” Latham said. “Coming in, we were still under a little bit of pressure and I just built the partnership with Kane and at the end had a little bit of fun without really trying to.
“It was nice to just put the ball in the gaps and run hard and clear the boundary a few times. Sometimes the stars just align.”
Earlier, captain Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill made half centuries in a 124-run opening partnership as India batted first after losing the toss.
Dhawan made 72, Gill scored 50 and Shreyas Iyer added an impressive 80 from 76 balls. Sanju Samson (36) and Washington Sundar (37 not out from 16 balls) had valuable contributions near the end which helped India past 300.
India's Umran Malik (2-66) showed why he is seen as a potential star of the white ball game when he snatched two early wickets on debut to put New Zealand on the back foot. But Williamson and Latham combined to wear down the India bowlers who missed their lengths on a challenging ground.
“We believed we got a good total because for the first 15 overs the ball was seaming a lot,” Dhawan said. “Eden Park is a bit different to other grounds and according to the ground dimensions you have to plan the bowling.
“I think we bowled a lot short of a length and Latham especially attacked us.”
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