New Zealand not only avenged their 2019 heartbreak against England but also introduced a promising 23-year-old all-rounder, Rachin Ravindra, who appears to be the real deal.

The buzzword for Jos Buttler and the England team before the 2023 ODI World Cup opener against New Zealand in Ahmedabad was “attack.” When asked if they were going to “defend” their World Cup title, Buttler rejected the idea, emphasizing his desire for an aggressive approach.

However, on Thursday, most of the English players neither attacked nor successfully defended a total of 282. Rachin Ravindra (123*) and Devon Conway (152*) made the chase look easy, sealing victory in just 36.2 overs.

New Zealand missed their regular captain, Kane Williamson, due to a knee injury that had plagued him for months. Despite playing in warm-up matches, he was not fit to face England.

Enter Rachin Ravindra. At the age of 23, he had only made his ODI debut earlier in the year, batting at number three for the first time. Despite his inexperience, his intent was clear: to attack.

Rachin had the advantage of partnering with Devon Conway, whom he knew well from their Wellington days. When Rachin stepped in to bat in the second over, he faced Sam Curran. He defended Curran’s inswinging deliveries in the first over but took an aggressive approach against Chris Woakes in the next.

In the third over, Ravindra hit consecutive boundaries off Woakes, making the most of the half-volleys the English bowlers provided. Boundaries continued to flow for Ravindra, including a remarkable six against Mark Wood’s 148.7 kmph short ball.

As England realized that spin was the only way to stop Ravindra, they turned to Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but their efforts were in vain as Ravindra continued to dominate. He reached his maiden ODI century in the 31st over, becoming New Zealand’s fastest centurion in World Cups.

Conway, on the other hand, attacked from the beginning, setting the tone for New Zealand’s chase. He reached his fifty in 36 balls, collecting more boundaries than Ravindra.

In the end, it was not just the boundaries but the overall approach that mattered. Ravindra and Conway maintained composure, avoided risks, and batted freely.

England missed Ben Stokes, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Their attacking mindset backfired as they struggled to find settled batters to build a substantial total. Joe Root’s departure in the 42nd over further diminished their hopes of reaching a competitive score.

England acknowledged that they fell short of their target, which was around 330 runs. It was a reality check for them, and they need to take one match at a time as they aim to defend their World Cup title in the coming weeks.

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