AUCKLAND: In the opening match of a three-match series at Eden Park on Friday, Tom Latham once again demonstrated why he is an ever-reliable middle-order batsman for New Zealand by scoring his seventh ODI century to secure a seven-wicket victory over India.
At 88/3 in 19.5 overs, New Zealand was in trouble when Shreyas Iyer top-scored with 80 off 76 balls and captain Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill hit 72 and 50, respectively, in their fourth hundred-plus stand as an opening pair this year to lead India to a difficult 306/7.
But Latham took control of the match by destroying India's inexperienced bowling lineup for a career-best score of 145 off 104 balls, laced with 19 fours and five sixes.
He also put together an unbroken 221-run partnership with skipper Kane Williamson off 165 balls. Williamson was the ideal partner and remained unbeaten at 94 not out with 17 balls left to complete the total chase. When Latham and Williamson were targeting India, they lost control of the ball, especially after the 40th over.
Washington Sundar, after a brilliant burst of 37 not out off 16 balls, was frugal in his stint of 0/42 although Umran Malik, on his ODI debut, did worry the Blackcaps with his two wickets. The remaining bowlers, including left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, who was making his debut, were blasted for runs.
Finn Allen and Devon Conway scored five boundaries in the first five overs of the 307-run chase. Yuzvendra Chahal dropped Allen at short mid-wicket off Shardul Thakur. However, the pacer took the outer edge off Allen's bat on the third pitch of the eighth over, resulting in a catch behind.
After the power play, Conway attempted a booming drive but failed due to a thin edge behind the keeper, giving Malik his first ODI defeat. When Daryl Mitchell mishandled a slice to deep point after four overs, Malik added another victim to his list of victims.
Williamson and Latham worked together to restart New Zealand's chase after they reached 88/3 in 19.5 overs. Before cutting Malik twice through the off-side to get three fours in two overs, Latham first swept Yuzvendra Chahal.