AUCKLAND: Indian bowlers crumbled in the face of Tom Latham's counter-attacking hundred as New Zealand rallied to crush India by seven wickets in the first ODI here on Friday.
On a ground where a 300-plus total had been chased only once, India fancied their chances after posting 306 for seven and then leaving the New Zealanders at 88 for three in the 20th over.
The hosts had the last laugh in the end though, reaching the target with 17 balls to spare thanks to Latham's unbeaten 104-ball 145 and skipper Kane Williamson's 94 not out off 98 deliveries as they added 221 runs for an unbeaten fourth-wicket partnership.
At the end of the 39th over, New Zealand needed 91 in 66 balls at nearly 8.30 runs an over.
By the time Shardul Thakur (1/63) had completed a forgettable 40th over, the hosts were in total control of the game, with Latham amassing 25 runs with the help of four fours and a six. That overswung the match firmly in New Zealand's favour as the visitors struggled to contain Latham who galloped towards victory.
Latham's belligerent innings comprised as many as 19 boundaries and five sixes, while Williamson hit seven fours and one maximum.
Tearaway pacer Umran Malik (2/66) made his presence felt on debut with his thunderbolts after an impressive show by the Indian batters, though the youngster from Jammu proved to be expensive.
Coming off a first-ball duck, Shreyas Iyer found form with a neat half-century before Washington Sundar blazed away to a 16-ball 37 to guide India to a competitive total.
Besides Iyer's 76-ball 80, Shikhar Dhawan (72 off 77 balls) and Shubman Gill (50 off 65), too, struck fluent fifties after the tourists were sent in to bat.
Umran bagged his maiden ODI wicket when Devon Conway went for an expansive drive off a quick delivery, only to get an outside edge for Rishabh Pant to complete an easy catch. Daryl Mitchell became Umran's second victim when he slashed one towards deep point.
That wasn't one the best of deliveries bowled by him on the day but the pressure he generated with his earing pace certainly helped him in getting the wicket.
However, Williamson and Latham rallied to lift the Kiwis to victory with a big partnership, leaving the Indians stunned.
Earlier, Sundar smashed three sixes and as many fours to prop up India at the death, while Iyer hit four maximums and four boundaries, having entered the game after his duck in the final T20 International two days ago.
New Zealand decided to field first after winning the toss and while Kane Williamson's bowlers prevented the Indians from getting off to a flyer, skipper Dhawan and Gill opened up after being watchful.
Having reached 40 in the first 10 overs after Gill was dropped by Lockie Ferguson off the bowling of Matt Henry, the Indian openers sought to improve the run rate and looked for boundaries.
Their quest paid off as India went past 100 in the 21st over with both Dhawan and Gill clearing the ropes on a regular basis.
Dhawan slashed Henry behind deep point and clipped him off pads in the 15th over to get two successive fours.
The India captain then got two more boundaries, off Adam Milne, including a smart upper cut to bring up India's hundred.
Having already hit two sixes over long-on and third man, for which he employed an excellent ramp shot, Gill got his third maximum when he smashed left-arm spinner, Mitchell Santner, down the ground and into the sightscreen.
Even as Dhawan got two boundaries against Tim Southee, Gill swept Santner for a boundary and closed in on fifty.
However, right after reaching his half-century, Gill got out after failing to clear Devon Conway in the deep off Ferguson.
Looking in fine fettle, Dhawan too was dismissed soon after as he hit Southee straight to Finn Allen at point.
When on 11, Iyer was offered life by Tom Latham after the batter had attempted the ramp shot against a short Milne delivery.
However, a ball after guiding Ferguson to the fine leg boundary, Pant went for the pull and dragged it onto his stumps, bringing to an end an innings that failed to inspire confidence.
That brought into the middle the man-in-form, Suryakumar Yadav, who got off the mark with an exquisite cover drive.
But, two balls, later, he was walking back to the dressing room after edging the nippy Ferguson to Allen at first slip.
The duo of Iyer and Sanju Smason (36 off 38 balls) then forged a 94-run partnership to steady the ship until the latter fell to a brilliant catch by Glenn Phillips.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (C), Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, 4 Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (C), Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)