India, the No.2 side on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings, and one of the favourites to win the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, lost their opening warm-up game to New Zealand, but the team played down any concerns.
But for Ravindra Jadeja, who made a half-century while rallying the tail to a respectable total, the Indian batsmen struggled against quality swing bowling in tough conditions at The Oval on Saturday, 25 May. While Virat Kohli admitted that things hadn't quite gone to plan, the team didn't want to read too much into it.
"Whenever you play in England, it's always difficult," explained Jadeja. "Coming from India, where you play on a low-bounce, flat wicket, you come to England and bat first, it was difficult. But we have a lot of time to work on it. Nothing to worry.
New Zealand win! 🙌— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) May 25, 2019
Disciplined bowling and fifties from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor power @BLACKCAPS to a comfortable six-wicket win in the #INDvNZ warm-up game.#INDvNZ SCORECARD 👇https://t.co/Ts6Ist8kYa pic.twitter.com/U7Yb8B63HL
"This is our first game. Nothing to worry about as a batting unit. We have a lot of experience. It's just one game – you can't just judge a player based on one bad innings."
On a grassy surface under cloudy skies, Trent Boult, one of the premier exponents of swing bowling, was in his element, hitting what his coach described as "impeccable lengths". Jadeja suggested that India were looking to use this game to test themselves against precisely such bowling.
"We wanted to bat first keeping in mind the seaming conditions," he said. "We might have decided differently in the main tournament. But we wanted to go into a tough situation and perform. If you play on such a grassy wicket, it will only become easy on a flat wicket. We took it as a challenge."
He was pleased with how he met this challenge: "I knew there was a lot of time. I told myself not to rush my shot selection. I limited my shots at first. They bowled in good areas early on, which I saw out."
New Zealand, meanwhile, while confident, remained grounded. "Today has no bearing on the World Cup," said Gary Stead, the coach. "It's nice we get some confidence, but we will let this go pretty quickly ... When we play India at Trent Bridge in a couple of weeks' time, whatever happened today doesn't really matter."
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!