Twin tons propel New Zealand to an easy World Cup victory.

Twin tons propel New Zealand to an easy World Cup victory.

The 13th edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup began in Ahmedabad, where New Zealand defeated England by nine wickets in the first match.

An unbeaten 273-run third-wicket stand between Rachin Ravindra (123*) and Devon Conway (152*) propelled New Zealand to a nine-wicket victory.

In response to England’s 282/9, New Zealand reached the target in 36.2 overs, giving them a strong start to the tournament.

New Zealand defeated England by nine wickets in the first match.
Will Young was out on the first ball of New Zealand’s innings. This, however, attracted Ravindra, who teamed up with Conway to light up the first Powerplay. In the first Powerplay, the Black Caps hit 13 fours and two sixes. Ravindra hit both sixes, one against Mark Wood and the other against Moeen Ali.

After assisting New Zealand to 81/1 in the first Powerplay, the duo didn’t back down and kept the scoring rate closer to eight over the next few overs. They also reached personal milestones of half-centuries in the 12th and 13th overs, respectively.

The scoring rate dropped slightly after the drinks break, but Conway and Ravindra quickly recovered. Their unbeaten 177-run stand (at the 25-over mark) was already the highest for two New Zealand batters in a Cricket World Cup match. They surpassed Chris Harris and Lee Germon’s 1996 168-run outing.

After the halfway point, the duo continued their unstoppable run. They also reached their respective tons during their stand. This was Conway’s fifth ODI century and Ravindra’s first. The England bowling lost its edge as the duo got closer to the target. They managed to break the record in the 37th over.

Earlier, England were restricted to 282/9 thanks to Matt Henry’s brilliant 3/48 and significant contributions from Mitchell Santner (2/37) and Glenn Phillips (2/17).

During England’s innings, the introduction of Jos Buttler in the 22nd over increased the scoring rate. The England captain took some time to get his bearings before going after the bowlers. In the 27th over, he carted Ravindra over the rope for his first boundary.

He then kept his foot on the gas, smashing two fours and two sixes in his innings. The game appeared to be slipping away from New Zealand until Henry returned to catch Buttler behind for 43.

Even as Joe Root and Liam Livingstone attempted runs, England maintained their attacking strategy. However, the Black Cap bowlers’ incisive bowling ensured that the batting side never ran away with the game. So Livingstone fell to Boult in the 39th over, and Root was cleaned up by Glenn Phillips’ golden arm in the 42nd over, when he misplayed a reverse sweep.

Despite regular New Zealand bowler breakthroughs in the final powerplay, England reached 282 thanks to an unbeaten 30-run 10th wicket partnership between Adil Rashid and Mark Wood. It was the first time in history that all eleven batters in a side had reached double figures.

Jonny Bairstow started England’s title defense in style, hitting a six off the very first ball of the game. He pushed an errant Trent Boult delivery down the legside into the stands. He unleashed a barrage of attacking shots to keep England in the game. His partner Dawid Malan, on the other hand, struggled against the Kiwi pacers. Malan eventually stole a behind from Henry in eight over.

The England batters continued to go for their shots in an attempt to maintain the scoring rate. Joe Root delivered an unusual reverse scoop that went behind the keeper’s head for a six.

However, New Zealand took control of the game in the second powerplay. Bairstow (33) was bowled out by Santner in the 13th over. Harry Brook (25), on the other hand, went for one too many shots in Ravindra’s first over, and was caught in deep midwicket after hitting 4, 4, 6 off the previous three deliveries.

England’s scoring rate was further stifled after losing Moeen to Phillips’ off-spin.

In the afternoon, New Zealand’s stand-in captain Tom Latham won the toss and chose to field in Ahmedabad.

The absence of two key players for the Black Caps, regular captain Kane Williamson and pacer Tim Southee, was the big news.

England had their own concerns, as star all-rounder Ben Stokes was also ruled out of the first game. Only recently did the all-rounder reverse his decision to retire from ODI cricket.

The first match of the World Cup will be a rematch between the two finalists from the 2019 Cricket World Cup. England won the trophy by the slimmest of margins over New Zealand on both occasions.

XIs in action:

England: Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Jos Buttler (c) (wk), Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood

New Zealand: Devon Conway, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (c) (wk), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult

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