AHMEDABAD: New Zealand steamrollered defending champions England by nine wickets in the opening match of the 50-over World Cup on Thursday, demonstrating again their knack of punching above their weight in showpiece events.
Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra smashed rapid unbeaten centuries to set up New Zealand’s successful pursuit of a 283-run victory target, which came with 13.4 overs to spare.
It was a rematch of the heart-stopping 2019 final at Lord’s in which England were declared winners via a now-scrapped boundary countback rule after the contest had ended in a tie.
Electing to field on Thursday, New Zealand’s bowlers restricted their opponents to 282-9, a modest total considering the firepower in England’s usually formidable batting lineup.
England’s batters did not really fire but Joe Root (77), Jos Buttler (43) and Jonny Bairstow (33) provided some resistance.
However, England could not string together enough partnerships and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
Matt Henry claimed 3-48 for New Zealand, while their three spinners shared five wickets on a hot afternoon at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
All 11 England batters made double figures — the first time any side have managed that in ODIs — but it was a patchy batting display overall.
New Zealand lost Will Young for nought in the first over but Conway, who made a career-best 152 not out, and Ravindra immediately turned the heat back on England with their free scoring.
The left-handers appeared to be competing with each other to reach the 50-mark — both getting there in 36 balls in the end.
Conway brought up his hundred in 83 balls.
Ravindra, who collaborated in an epic unbroken 273-run partnership with Conway, took one delivery fewer to notch up his maiden ODI hundred in his memorable World Cup debut.
New Zealand rested regular captain Kane Williamson (knee) and fast bowler Tim Southee (thumb) to give them more time to recover from surgery.
England rested Ben Stokes, who is nursing a minor hip injury.
England: Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Jos Buttler (captain), Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (captain), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult