New Zealand made a statement on the opening day of the 2023 ODI World Cup by smashing the defending champions England in Ahmedabad. Chasing 283 for victory, Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra sent the England bowlers on a leather hunt by hammering centuries to pick up the win with 82 balls still left in the chase.
Conway wasted little time to get going and started off the chase with a couple of boundaries in the very first over. But at the other end, Will Young nicked one down the leg side off Sam Curran to depart for a golden duck. England’s joy was short-lived thereafter as the game quickly turned into an one-sided affair.
2023 ODI World Cup debutant Ravindra took on Woakes and hammered him out of the attack by smashing him for four boundaries and showed no fear whatsoever against the pace of Mark Wood to race to 34 off just 22 balls. The boundary spree continued as New Zealand knocked off 81 runs in the powerplay in quite stunning fashion. Even the introduction of spin in the form of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid didn’t help England as Ravindra continued to hammer the bowlers to bring up a 36-ball fifty. Conway reached his landmark in the very next over before teeing off further.
At the end of the 20th over, New Zealand were well and truly on top forcing England to pray for a miracle to bail them out. That just didn’t happen as both the batters continued their rampage. In the process, Conway registered the first hundred of this year’s 2023 ODI World Cup and Ravindra, too, made his promotion count in Kane Williamson’s absence by bringing up his maiden international ton. Conway then brought a swift end to England’s misery by launching into the attack to get the job done in the 37th over.
Earlier in the day, a weakened New Zealand bowling outfit did a tremendous job to keep England to 282/9 especially as the defending champions looked all set to finish with a total well beyond 300. Even though New Zealand dominated the middle overs, Jos Buttler and Joe Root led England’s revival and both batters were set to take advantage of a bowling lineup that didn’t have Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee, both missing out due to injuries.
Matt Henry stepped up in their absence with the new ball and troubled Dawid Malan before eventually dismissing him. And even though Jonny Bairstow gave England a fine start in the powerplay, his team did struggle post his departure as none of the batters managed to hang in there alongside Root. Harry Brook, making his World Cup bow in the absence of Ben Stokes, thrilled for a while smashing Ravindra but ended up playing one shot too many and mistiming one off the same bowler. Moeen’s promotion didn’t work either as Glenn Phillips cleaned him up.
Root and Buttler then joined forces to stem the rot, with the skipper initially biding his time, scoring 8 off just 15 balls. Buttler then teed off and hit a six each off Ravindra and Trent Boult before racing to his 40s. With Root also going past fifty, England were well set at 187/4 after 33 overs. A weakened bowling attack for the opponent meant the likes of Root, Buttler, Liam Livingstone, Curran and Woakes could all cause damage at the death.
However, Henry returned to get rid of the big fish as Buttler edged behind. Livingstone didn’t last long before Phillips returned to land the killer blow as Root failed to connect a reverse sweep to lose his leg stump. New Zealand really went for the kill and kept picking wickets to leave England reeling at 252/9. But for the first time in ODI history, all 11 batters managed to touch double digits as Mark Wood and Adil Rashid dragged their side to 282/9 – a total that wasn’t good enough by any stretch to challenge the centurions.
Brief scores: England 282/9 in 50 overs (Joe Root 77, Jos Buttler 43; Matt Henry 3/48, Glenn Phillips 2/17) lost to New Zealand 283/1 in 36.2 overs (Devon Conway 152*, Rachin Ravindra 123*) by 9 wickets