Boult fires but New Zealand flounder in tour opener

Indian Board President’s XI 295 for 9 (Nair 78, Rahul 68, Shaw 66, Boult 5-38) beat New Zealand 265 (Latham 59, Nadeem 3-41, Unadkat 3-62) by 30 runs


A 147-run stand – featuring near identical fifty-plus scores off two distinctly unlike innings – between KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw set up a 30-run victory for Board President’s XI in the first warm-up game against a full-strength New Zealand side in Mumbai. A brisk 78 from Karun Nair set up the total of 295 for 9 despite a blistering five-wicket haul for Trent Boult. Captain Kane Williamson and Tom Latham made gritty contributions, but three-fors from Shahbaz Nadeem and Jaydev Unadkat restricted the visitors’ chase. ESPNcricinfo takes a look at the highlights from the tour opener:

The Rahul rejig

For someone who has opened in 41 out of 47 innings in his international career, a slew of failures – scores of 7, 17 and 4 against Sri Lanka in the ODIs – as a middle-order batsman came at a price for Rahul: non-inclusion in the XI through the home series against Australia followed by omission from the limited-overs squad against New Zealand. However, if a belated inclusion to the Board XI squad for the warm-ups came across as an oddity, having him to open the innings in the first practice game was even harder to comprehend.

At a time when the national side already has three batsmen earmarked for the opening slots, Rahul’s taking up the opener’s role – despite the half-century – leaves questions to be asked what role he is expected to play in India’s limited-overs campaigns.

The Shaw show

Right from the first ball of the tour opener, New Zealand’s quicks threw everything they had at the 17-year-old: searing yorkers, waist-high short balls, deceptive outswingers. And then, there were the bouncers – a barrage of them, angled into the body, outside the off stump, down the leg side. He delivered by leaping, cutting, pulling, and even took evasive action when needed.

In the 19th over, when the infielders appealed for a caught-behind, Shaw nonchalantly drowned New Zealand’s protracted celebrations with a quiet stare at the bowler even before the umpire turned down the appeal. “I heard he’s 17; [I] couldn’t quite believe it,” Boult said of Shaw. An 80-ball 66 against the simmering New Zealand pace battery did lend credence to Boult’s confession of ignorance.

Boult from the black

That New Zealand waited until the tenth over to introduce a spinner, can be reasoned by the bounce and carry offered by what otherwise wore the look of a uni-dimensional flat pitch. More than just the surface, it was the accuracy and lateral movement generated by Boult’s left-armers that applied the choke on President’s XI in the latter half of their innings. Used in three spells, Boult breathed fire every time Williamson brought him on even as the sweltering Mumbai heat began to tell on the hosts. The second and third spells, comprising three and two overs near the close of the 40th and 50th over, accounted for four of his five wickets, triggering a collapse in which the home team lost five for 23.

Taking turns

A major part of the build-up to the tour has revolved around New Zealand’s preparations – both technically and mentally – about rising to the challenge of spin. Accordingly, the Board President’s XI bowled 24 overs of spin at them, taking five wickets for 115 runs. However, Colin Munro, Williamson and Latham, in particular, appeared to be adroitly warming up to the spinners before Karn Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem began extracting more from the surface.

New Zealand’s own spinners didn’t have a particularly bad day, although Todd Astle’s walk-off with a groin injury, having bowled just three balls, might worry them. Two other frontline spinners – Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi – oversaw the undoing of the well-set President’s XI openers, after they began operating in tandem from the 26th over. Their partnership helped wrest control in the middle overs, and they took 3 for 94 in the 18 overs between them.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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