India captain Virat Kohli lauded fast bowler Mohammed Shami for his intensity and fitness levels after the pace snared three wickets to set up a comfortable eight-wicket win in the first ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Shami bowled with good pace and control to get the wickets of openers Martin Guptil and Colin Munro, continuing his good form he showed in Test cricket in 2018. The 28-year-old pacer has been troubled by knee issues over the years but is currently operating at a high level for sustained periods, which was praised by Kohli.
“The belief in his (Shami) own ability and his fitness – this is the fittest I’ve seen him in his career. And his Test form has translated into one-day cricket,” Kohli said after India’s win.
“It was one of our more balanced performances. When I lost the toss, I thought it was going to be 300 par. 150-odd on that wicket was superb,” Kohli said. “The pitch got slow in the second half of the innings but in the first half, the spinners bowled well, cramped the batsmen and they made it difficult despite the dimensions of the field.”
Kohli was also glad opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan remained unbeaten on 75 after going nine matches without a fifty.
“Really important innings for Shikhar. We spoke during the sun break that he needed to finish the game to get some momentum. He is a dangerous player when in rhythm,” Kohli said.
Kohli has been taking rest during limited overs matches in order to remain fresh for bigger challenges like Test matches. The India skipper played the entire four-Test Test and three-ODI series in Australia and led India to a comfortable win in the first ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday.
After India eased to an eight wicket win in Napier, the BCCI announced that Kohli will be rested for the last two ODIs and the entire T20 series.
“Considering his workload in the last few months, the team management and senior selection committee is of the view that it would be ideal for Kohli to get adequate rest ahead of the home series against Australia,” the BCCI statement said.
“There will be no replacement in the squad for the New Zealand series. Rohit Sharma will captain the side in the final two ODIs and T20I series.”
With Kohli to be rested, it looks like up and coming batting sensation Shubman Gill will get an opportunity to make his mark at the international level.
India had already rested premier fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah for the tour while Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul remain suspended. In the absence of Kohli, India’s squad will be be weakened considerably.
In-form New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor said while India skipper Virat Kohli is ‘easily’ the best ODI player, his team must avoid getting caught up in the Kohli hype ahead of the five-match ODI series which begins on Wednesday.
Kohli has been the most prolific batsman in ODI cricket for the last four years and towers above the rest when it comes to runs and centuries made. Kohli’s record of 39 ODI tons in just 219 ODIs with more than 10,000 runs make him one of the all-time greats in the format. But Taylor – who himself is in stupendous form in ODI cricket – said there are two other explosive batsmen at the top of the Indian order – Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
“He’s a sensational player, the best one-day player going around, quite easily,” Taylor was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz. “It’s easy to get caught up in him. (But) you’ve got two pretty good openers at the top, Sharma and Dhawan, before he gets in.”
Taylor has been in great form, averaging more than 90 in ODIs in 2018 and making six successive fifty-plus scores. After getting corrective surgery in his eye to remove a growth late in 2016, Taylor has been plundering runs.
“I’ve played a few internationals now and understand my role in the team,” said Taylor. “I’ve worked on my game, and try and rotate the strike early and be as busy as I can. Different shots against spinners at different stages have evolved my game in a positive way.”
The Kiwis were given a late shock after Taylor dislocated his little finger recently. But the 34-year-old said he has recovered. “It’s fine. It looks a lot more sore than it is … no break, but the ligaments were a bit sore,” he said.