Auckland, Nov 25 (IANS): After losing the ODI series opener by seven wickets at Eden Park on Friday, India captain Shikhar Dhawan admitted that New Zealand's wicketkeeper-batter Tom Latham took the game away from them through his 25-run onslaught in the 40th over of chasing 307.
In the chase, New Zealand were in trouble at 88/3 in 19.5 overs and later, on, they needed 144 runs off the last 18 overs. Latham was on 36 runs off 43 balls at that stage and shifted his gears in admirable fashion to end up unbeaten on a career-best score of 145 off 104 balls, laced with 19 fours and five sixes.
Latham had torn into Shardul Thakur in the 40th over - pulling over deep backward square leg for six, followed by four successive boundaries, three of which were hammered through the leg-side. He would then complete his second ODI century against India with a single to long-on to take 25 runs off that over, making the result a foregone conclusion from that point.
"It's a bit different than other grounds. Have to plan accordingly. Today we've bowled short of length and Latham attacked us there. That's where he took the game away from us especially in the 40th over."
"We misfielded on a few balls. But as I said, we were quite short to Latham, and that's where he took the game away. He hit four boundaries in the 40th over, and that's where the game and momentum shifted," said Dhawan in the post-match presentation ceremony.
Feasting on an inexperienced Indian bowling attack, Latham also stitched an unbeaten 221-run stand off 165 balls with skipper Kane Williamson, who was the perfect ally and was unconquered at 94 not out to chase down 307 with 17 balls remaining.
At the innings break, Washington Sundar had said 306/7 posted by India was a par total, but it didn't turn out to be enough for them to be 1-0 behind in the three-match series. "We felt good about the total. First 10-15 overs the ball did a lot. Really enjoy playing here. Would've been happier if we won but that's part and parcel," added Dhawan.
India were fielding two debutant pacers in Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh. The visitors' were also without a sixth bowling option, something which they would have used with almost all bowlers getting a hammering from Latham and Williamson.
In batting, Dhawan and Shubman Gill had 124-run opening stand, but that came in 23.1 overs, apart from losing four wickets for 36 runs in the middle overs. With the second ODI at Hamilton on Sunday, Dhawan said India have lots of learnings to take from the loss in Auckland.
"They're all young boys and lots of learning for them in bowling and fielding side as well. We need to implement our plans more wisely and make sure we don't make the batsmen play on their strength. Surely lots of learning for the boys."