When the Black Caps arrived for their opening Cricket World Cup warm up match to find a healthy grass covering on the glorious Oval pitch, the seam attack collectively lit up.

Rolling India for 179 in 39.2 overs was not in the script.

Pre-tournament predictions were flat tracks, small boundaries and record-breaking totals dominating ball - some even expecting the 500 barrier to be threatened.

Not today.


Last night's rain, cloud cover and the noticeable green tinge provided favourable conditions – and the Black Caps sure made the most of the white ball nipping about to rip through India's top order.

In the context of this World Cup the comfortable six-wicket victory is irrelevant.

But in their first 50-over hitout as a unit for almost three months, the Black Caps bowlers will take confidence from pushing the world's No 2 ranked ODI team onto the ropes.

Trent Boult led the way with 4-33 from 6.2 overs. He removed openers Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul with his first 14 balls to have India reeling at 24-3, and then finished the job with the final wicket of Kuldeep Yadav.

The No 2 ranked ODI bowler did the damage with swing in both directions. In these conditions he will, clearly, trouble the world's best batsmen at this tournament.

Boult found support from Jimmy Neesham's 3-26 from six overs and Colin de Grandhomme also proving difficult to counter.

After Boult set the platform, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor's half centuries did the rest.

The trusty old firm came together with New Zealand teetering, somewhat, at 37-2 after Colin Munro perished to a fast, straight third-ball yorker from Jasprit Bumrah to continue his out-of-sorts form at the top, and Martin Guptill holed out for 22.


Despite their now common indecision between the wickets, Williamson and Taylor steadily compiled 114 to cull any hint of nerves.

Williamson largely coasted and Taylor survived one rash shot on three, pushing on with some classical cover drives, only to be dismissed one run short of victory for a fluent 71 from 75 balls.

With no scoreboard pressure, both navigated the middle overs and India's wrist spinners well before Williamson chipped out playing across the line to Yuzvendra Chahal for 67 from 87.

Williamson's exit allowed Henry Nicholls to hit the winning runs, in his brief stint at the crease after coming in at five, with almost 13 overs to spare.

From a New Zealand perspective, the most pleasing aspect will be their range of wicket-takers.

Conditions suited de Grandhomme perfectly. Casually trundling in at first change, his 1-12 from six overs silenced the legion of typically boisterous Indian fans after baffling Virat Kohli, his Bangalore IPL teammate.

Lockie Ferguson hit the deck hard with little luck for 1-33 from eight overs.

Neesham showed no lingering signs of back issues that plagued previous bowling efforts at this level.

In a welcome performance for the balance of the side, the all-rounder had success with regular cross-seam deliveries.

With a peach of a first ball, Neesham removed Pandya for 30 with one that seamed away slightly and took the edge through to Tom Blundell. Neesham then had Dinesh Karthik with his fourth ball, a leg side volley that should have been dispatched but instead flew to Ish Sodhi at third man, and Taylor held a one-handed screamer to send Bhuvneshwar Kumar on his way.

At that point, India were 115-8.

Spinners Mitchell Santner and Sodhi took some tap from their three overs apiece as Ravindra Jadeja's 50 ball 54 added some respectability to India's total, before Guptill's low diving catch at point off Ferguson halted the rear guard action.

Tim Southee, preferred ahead of Matt Henry who, along with injured wicketkeeper Tom Latham, were the only players to sit out this match, could not replicate Boult's movement at the other end.

In his second spell Southee did return to pick up MS Dhoni, who threw away his wicket with a charge and flick to the leg side that went straight down Neesham's throat.

But Southee remains under pressure to retain his place, with Henry expected to get a crack in the second warm up match against the West Indies in Bristol on Tuesday.

All and all, the Black Caps could not have wished for a better start.