Once Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina had devoured the BLACKCAP’s bowling attack, Daniel Vettori critically picked over the carcass as India revelled in a 53-run victory in the series opening cricket one-dayer at McLean Park last night.
While the threat of Sachin Tendulkar never eventuated, India had sufficient star quality to ensure New Zealand's prospects of maintaining momentum from the Twenty20 format was already negligible at the change of innings.
Sehwag, Raina and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni combined in contrasting fashion to drive India to 273 for four from 38 overs after rain trimmed their allocation.
New Zealand were initially set 278 for victory due to the vagaries of the Duckworth/Lewis method and when the players returned from a second interruption, the home side needed to accelerate from 111 for four to 216 in a minuscule 7.1 overs.
The task was always beyond New Zealand, who could only take scant satisfaction from not being dismissed before their 28-over innings elapsed.
Despite losing Grant Elliott and Jacob Oram directly before and after the rain break -- and four wickets in five balls during one catastrophic sequence -- New Zealand closed on 162 for nine, a damp squib of a run chase.
The margin of India's triumph was emphatic considering pace bowler Ishant Sharma was resting his injured shoulder and Dhoni only employed Harbhajan Singh as his sixth and final bowling option in the 22nd over.
It was hardly an SOS, though Harbhajan treated it as such by removing top scorer Martin Guptill (64) and Neil Broom (2) in successive balls. Kyle Mills survived the hattrick ball but was out to the next.
While the batting implosion was spectacular, Vettori was more concerned about New Zealand's subdued performance in the field.
"The consistency wasn't there. When you turn up on a wicket like this you have to be inch perfect to succeed and we probably didn't even get close.
"To compete against India you have to be at your best but we didn't get that from the bowlers."
Mills, who missed the Twenty20s against Australia and India with an Achilles tendon injury, sustained the severest punishment -- his seven overs cost 69 as Sehwag plundered 77 from 56 balls.
"Giving width to Sehwag is almost unforgivable with the way he plays," Vettori lamented.
"We did that on a number of occasions and really from the start we didn't allow ourselves to get into the game."
There was no respite when Raina arrived, his 66 took just 39 deliveries and included five sixes to Sehwag's one.
Dhoni promoted himself to first drop and practically crept to 84 from 89 balls, though his sheet anchor role was also invaluable.
"The batting was superb," Dhoni said, down playing his contribution.
"I always stressed the need for a good start, we knew we had the firepower down the order to capitalise on a decent start. Everything went to plan.
"Raina played brilliant cricket, he played on instinct. It's good to see youngsters play their natural game rather than get bogged down," Dhoni said of the 22-year-old.
Meanwhile, New Zealand pace bowler Ian Butler at least had the satisfaction of marking his return to international cricket with the coveted wicket of Tendulkar -- for 20 -- the highlight of an eight over toil that cost 42, the most economical analysis alongside Vettori.
Iain O'Brien (0-52) started with a maiden to Tendulkar but Mills had little to enthuse about as his Chappell-Hadlee Trophy form of last month failed to materialise.
Both sides head to Wellington today to prepare for the second day-nighter on Friday.