New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls on Thursday said the ODI squad did not carry the baggage of the T20 side which was blanked by India and that reflected in its highest run chase in 50-over cricket. Riding on Ross Taylor's 21st hundred, the hosts chased down their highest total in ODIs on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The second ODI will be played in Auckland on Saturday.
"We didn't feel it as part of the group coming in. So I wasn’t feeling any pressure and there is no need to prove anything. It was a small ground and a big chase, so it was nice we were able to do that," Nicholls said in Auckland on Thursday.
"It was great, our biggest chase ever in ODI cricket and it was good to be able to contribute in it. In the past, playing India in India, we have had a couple of chases around the 300-mark and others we got close to. It was nice to do that again at home, and to actually win the game, it was great," he added.
Taylor smacked an unbeaten 109, with Tom Latham knocking 69 off 48 balls. Their partnership broke India’s bowling strength in the middle overs. Nicholls paid rich tribute to the two senior batsmen.
"Having someone like that at number four, especially with Kane Williamson not being there as well, the experience he brings is immense. It is not just about the runs, because batting with him in the middle, you keep having those conversations that help your batting too.
"The dimensions of the ground helped us and he certainly likes batting there. It was a great partnership and great knock from him. Ross being there till the end to be not out and win the game was immense for us."
On Lathham's knock, he said: "Tom and I have played together for a long time, so I have certainly seen him play like that before. He is very versatile and adaptive to the game scenario and conditions. The way he started, well it was slow, 2 off 10 balls or something.
"But he managed to put the pressure back on Kuldeep (Yadav) and their other spinners. Being captain he led from the front and that partnership changed the game for us,” said Nicholls.
Seddon Park’s dimensions came into sharp focus, as a shorter boundary on one side benefitted the chase. The second ODI will be played at Eden Park which has shorter boundaries still.
"The short boundary proved to be really important for us. There was some breeze as well in the evening. So whenever they bowled through the middle, or bowled short, we pushed back with boundaries.
"Their attacking bowlers couldn’t bowl with the bigger boundary and it played into our hands. Ross managed it pretty well and again for Tom to come to the crease, and attack the way he did, it really changed the game.
"On a short ground, the credit goes to our bowlers who realized it could be a 360-370 score. But they kept it to a smaller score which could be chase down. For us as a batting unit, we know we can chase high scores on that small ground," said Nicholls.
The batsman said he will continue to open as long as the management wants, despite suggestion that Latham could move up top given his form.
"Opening is not too different. I am used to batting in a few different spots. I was opening a bit for Canterbury coming into this series. So I am trying to form a new partnership up top with Martin Guptill, and get those platforms in.
"I was disappointed to get out after a good start. But with Ross there and the way Tom started, I was confident we could get the chase done. In the end we only needed run-a-ball and it was the biggest factor for us to finish the game," he signed off.