Virat Kohli

With all teams already stationed in England for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, the Indian team were here straight after an engrossing Indian Premier League campaign. India were scheduled to play 2 warm-up games before the actual competition begins with New Zealand (Oval) and Bangladesh (Cardiff).

Toss at Kennington Oval was one which Kohli finally won and elected to bat, analyzing that there was some grass on the pitch which would help bowlers throughout the match. However, it was a good batting pitch with some high scoring chases involved in the past days and this could have been one such game too.
Even though the match was a warm-up game, fans in “blue” had gathered in numbers to give a proper WC match atmosphere for players. While Indian lineup was batting quite strong for a warm-up game, the match started Southee bowling to top 3 of Indian batting line-up (Rohit, Dhawan & Kohli) which has scored close to 3400 runs in last one and half year.
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Southee’s inclusion in playing 11 was an eye-catching one, with the pacer having not such a good past record. It was Kiwis ploy to give match practice to finalize best playing 11 to win their 1st World Cup.
1st Innings-
It was an expected start from the Indian team considering the long exhausting IPL with 3 wickets down for 24 runs in 5.3 overs, with some quality bowling by Kiwi fast bowlers. It was Boult picking all 3, being helped by Southee at the other end.
After 10 overs, it was time for Kohli to help build the innings. Despite that, proved futile with Grandhomme getting him bowled in 11th over. Out went Kohli, in came Dhoni, who along with young Pandya tried to console innings adding cautious 38 runs for 5th wicket stand. Just when it seemed that the Indian innings is resurrecting, Neesham picked up Pandya caught behind.
Seemed like the Indian team was giving every player a chance to justify their inclusion in the playing 11, but sadly all were failing short. Karthik over Pant has had its own online debates, so it was exciting to see how he would play the game. Karthik played 2 good balls with a boundary to his name but didn’t bother keep the scoreboard ticking, giving his wicket to Neesham, making him the right arm-medium bowler’s second victim.
In came Jadeja, one of Dhoni’s favorite player since his captaincy days. The two were trying their best to give the bowlers some runs to bowl too, but Southee got the biggest fish in the ocean when he got his only wicket. The wicket was of former Indian captain Dhoni in the 23rd over. After winning toss experts were projecting a 315+ score, but getting even 120 now looked a big ask.
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Jadeja had a couple of steady partnerships with Bhubaneswar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav to keep the run-rate above 4 runs/over. Jadeja scored a quick-fire 54 from 50 balls with six 4s and two 6s, to be caught while playing a cut short to Ferguson. He gave confidence to the other batsmen, as he urged them to face enough balls to stretch the innings as long they could. This ploy resulted in Kuldeep scoring 19 precious runs for the team, the 3rd highest runs for India made by a no. 10 batsman.
Boult was the pick of bowlers to end his innings with 4/33 in 6.2 overs. Even though all  Indian batsmen scored good runs in the recently concluded IPL, they were bowled out at 179 all out in 39.2 overs.
2nd Innings-
India being one of favorites and front-runners for their 3rd World Cup, there was still some hope left. The 2nd innings started with Kumar and Bumrah opening Indian bowling. On one end Kumar gave quick runs to Kiwis batsmen, while on other end Bumrah got his first wicket. Munro was dismissed in his 1st over, to raise hopes for the bowling team in this game.
With a low scoring target to defend, the New Zealanders did’t want to loose too many wickets hence played cautiously to Bumrah, who even though picked just 1 wicket, tightened the run scoring by giving just 2 runs in 4 overs. The Kiwis set their sights on other ends, where they milked the Indian bowling.
Despite that, the lost Guptil, who tried hitting Pandya for a square cut to be eventually caught by Rahul at end of the 1st power-play. It was time for captain Williamson and experienced Taylor to go through the motions of scoring runs and they got the job done.
The duo helped their team end the game on a high note, as they scored a 114 run partnership for the 3rd wicket, with no opposition bowler able to make in-roads in the NZ lineup. Before they knew it, the batsmen had already made 151 runs in 30 overs, needing just 29 runs in the final 20.
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Just when it felt that the match was ending, India’s man of the moment Jadeja removed a well set Ross at scored tied at 179. Kohli employed services of 7 bowlers in the match, but felt short of runs in a low scoring game.
India play Bangladesh next, where captain Kohli can try better combinations with replacing the not so in-form Kuldeep, bringing in all-rounder Kedar Jadav. Bhuvi needs to focus on the next match along with Shami. Even though the Indian batting lineup is very strong, the bowlers too need to pull up their socks in English conditions and perform. Whether that will happen now or not, only time will tell.