Ben Stokes joins the 100 Test club this week in the more unlikely surroundings of Rajkot as England get back to business in India following a week off.

A headline-grabbing career has brought more peaks than troughs and, here, the PA news agency looks at the England captain’s best Test moments ahead of his landmark appearance.

120 v Australia – Perth, December 2013

England were getting mauled by moustachioed menace Mitchell Johnson et al on a calamitous 2013/14 Ashes tour but Stokes was undaunted. In his second Test on a WACA pitch bursting with deep, wide cracks, the then 22-year-old earned Australia’s grudging respect with a hard-nosed fourth-innings century. England lost but months after being told he was squandering his gifts by Andy Flower amid some indiscretions on a Lions tour, Stokes’ surreptitious “I’ll show you” response came to bear in extraordinary fashion.

101 v New Zealand – Lord’s, May 2015

In and out of the side due to injuries, under-performance and a lack of role clarity, Stokes rewarded the decision to elevate him to number six in the batting order with two buccaneering innings. Ten months on from a chastening pair at HQ, Stokes followed up a rescue-act 92 with an 85-ball hundred – the quickest ever at Lord’s – before snaring Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum with successive balls in an England win. His place in any side when fit and available has never been in doubt since then.

Six for 36 v Australia – Trent Bridge, August 2015

Stuart Broad’s eight for 15 rightly lives longer in the memory but the ‘oh my Broad’ image that summed up the 2015 Ashes was largely down to Stokes’ one-handed leaping catch in the cordon to see off Adam Voges. In Australia’s second innings, with Broad having nothing like as much impact, Stokes channelled his inner James Anderson, finding some prodigious swing, to ultimately make sure England regained the urn. Remarkably, it is the only time in his career Stokes has been part of an Ashes-winning side.

135 not out v Australia – Headingley, August 2019

Stokes’ magnum opus came six weeks after his scarcely-credible heroics in the 2019 World Cup and a year and a week after being acquitted of affray in a Bristol court case that threatened to overshadow his career. After England were skittled for a miserly 67, Stokes, perhaps seeking to atone for his loose shot, first bowled himself into the ground to take three for 56 then roused the hosts in a then national record chase of 359. Watchful at first before exploding with just number 11 Jack Leach for company, Stokes kept the Ashes alive and sent Headingley into raptures with a knock for the ages.

103 v South Africa – Emirates Old Trafford, August 2022

Despite starting his reign as England Test skipper with four wins out of four, Stokes and the so-called ‘Bazball’ methods alongside McCullum came under scrutiny when they lost to South Africa at Lord’s. England also threatened to throw away a handy position in Manchester but measured tons from Stokes – his first since assuming the captaincy – and Ben Foakes quietened any criticism. Stokes also collected a couple of top-order wickets in both the Proteas’ innings to seal a resounding win.

West Indies fast-bowling sensation Shamar Joseph has jumped a massive 42 spots up the ICC Men’s Test rankings this week to sit joint 50th on the list.

Joseph, whose breathtaking performances in the recently-concluded two Test series against Australia earned him the Player of the series award, was instrumental in the regional side's historic second Test win against the World Champions. He took five wickets for 94 runs in the first encounter, which Australia won by 10 wickets and seven wickets for 68 runs in West Indies' famous eight-run win.

The 24-year-old Joseph and his pace partners all secured ranking upgrades, as Kemar Roach moved two places up to 17th and Alzarri Joseph inched four places up to 33rd. New Zealand’s Kane Williamson remains the Number one batsman ahead of England’s Joe Root and Australian Steve Smith, while the bowling list is headed by Indian Ravi Ashwin followed by South African Kagiso Rabada and Australia's captain Pat Cummins.

All-rounders Jason Holder, ranked at seventh, and 10th-ranked Kyle Mayers, the highest rated West Indies players on the all-rounders’ list, did not play against Australia in the recent series. India’s Ravi Jadeja heads that list.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is upbeat about his team’s chances of taking down “exceptional” India when the teams meet in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Hosts India have won all nine of their games at the tournament so far and are the favourites to go on and lift the trophy for the first time since 2011.

The Black Caps suffered four group-stage defeats, including a four-wicket loss to India on October 22, but Williamson insists that will have no bearing when the teams meet again in Mumbai for a place in the final.

“India have been exceptional,” he told a press conference. “They are one of the, if not the best team going around and are playing cricket that matches that.

“But we know on our day, when we play our best cricket, it gives us the best chance.

“We know it’s going to be a really tough challenge. They are a side that have been playing extremely well but we all know, come finals time, everything starts again and it’s all about the day.

“Every game in this tournament is a tricky one. As we’ve seen throughout, anybody can beat anybody on the day, whether that be the quality on both sides but also the change in conditions and if that has an impact.

“For us, it’s great to have got to the final stage and then take a fresh approach because it does start again.”

New Zealand's ODI captain Kane Williamson is set to miss this year's ICC World Cup after scans confirmed he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) fielding in the Indian Premier League.

The decorated 32-year-old batsman underwent scans on Tuesday having sustained the injury to his right knee fielding in the Gujarat Titans' season opener against the Chennai Super Kings on Friday.

Williamson, who returned to New Zealand following the incident, will likely miss the World Cup in India in October and November given the significant rehabilitation timeframe for an ACL injury.

"I look forward to doing what I can to support [New Zealand coach] Gary [Stead] and the team over the next few months," Williamson said in a New Zealand Cricket statement.

"Naturally it's disappointing to get such an injury, but my focus now is on having the surgery and starting rehab.

"It's going to take some time, but I'll be doing everything I can to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Williamson averages 47.83 across 161 ODIs with 13 centuries and 42 half-centuries, with his absence at the World Cup to be a major blow for the Black Caps. Tom Latham is the leading candidate to take over as captain at the World Cup.

"You take Kane the player for a start, but then Kane the leader and the person he is within our group as well, it's a huge spanner in the works for us," Stead said.

"We haven't given up hope that he might be right but at this stage it does look unlikely. Our first thoughts are with Kane at the moment, it's a tough time for him, it's not an injury you expect…it hits you pretty hard."

New Zealand were beaten in the 2019 World Cup final by England in a dramatic super over on the boundary count back rule. Williamson was named Player of the Tournament in 2019, making 578 runs in 10 games.

Australia's Josh Hazlewood has moved to the top of the ICC's ODI bowler rankings for the first time in his career after Mohammed Siraj slipped to third. 

Siraj conceded 37 runs off just three overs in India's 10-wicket loss to Australia on Sunday, which caused the paceman to slump behind Hazlewood and New Zealand's Trent Boult.

Mitchell Stark took 5-53 in that rout, equalling the record number of five-wicket ODI hauls by an Australian bowler.

Hazlewood's rise to the top of the rankings comes despite the 32-year-old having not played in an ODI since November, while his last appearance in any format came in January.

However, he is expected to be back playing for this year's Ashes series in England, which commences on June 16 at Edgbaston.

Meanwhile, Kane Williamson has moved up four spots to second in the Test batting rankings behind Marnus Labuschagne. 

Williamson scored a remarkable 215 runs in New Zealand's victory over Sri Lanka in their two-match series, which the Black Caps won 2-0.

New Zealand captain Tim Southee described Kane Williamson as "world-class" after he led them to a dramatic final-ball win against Sri Lanka in the first Test at the Hagley Oval.

After rain delays on the final day on Monday, the hosts eventually began play on 28-1, needing a further 257 runs to win from 52 overs.

That effectively turned the innings into one more akin to an ODI, and both teams approached it as such

Williamson, who was dismissed for just one in the first innings, was the fulcrum for the chase as he hit 121 from 194 balls, with various partners showing more aggression after opener Tom Latham had fallen for 24.

Williamson and Daryl Mitchell (81 from 86) put on 142 for the fourth wicket, before Asitha Fernando (3-63) started taking wickets to set up a tense ending.

New Zealand still needed eight runs from the final over with just three wickets remaining, with Matt Henry then run out from the third ball.

With the last delivery of the match, Williamson and the injured Neil Wagner desperately ran through a bye to win it, with the former only getting his bat in marginally as Sri Lanka produced a direct hit at the stumps at the non-striker's end.

"Seeing how calm Kane is out in the middle keeps us calm as well," Southee said after the win. "He's a world-class player and world-class players are able to perform in different conditions.

"The guys were very trusting in what he was going to do and, alongside Daryl, for most of the day it was a great partnership that got us in that great position."

The defeat for Sri Lanka meant they were unable to qualify for the ICC World Test Championship final, with India taking that spot against Australia.

It gave the Black Caps their third-highest successful chase in Test cricket (285), and their second remarkable Test win in recent weeks after the one-run victory against England last month.

The second Test in Wellington gets underway on Friday.

Kane Williamson savoured the "special" achievement of becoming New Zealand's leading Test run-scorer after giving his side a fighting chance of salvaging a 1-1 draw against England.

Williamson made a masterful 132 as the Black Caps were all out for 483 on day four, having been made to follow-on by Ben Stokes.

Former captain Williamson moved beyond Ross Taylor's tally of 7,683 runs to break the record at Basin Reserve on Monday, where England closed on 48-1 in need of another 210 runs for a 2-0 whitewash on the final day.

Williamson's 26th Test century came on his 161st innings, with Taylor's huge haul achieved from 186 knocks in the longest format.

Asked about his achievement at the close of play, the 32-year-old said: "It's not something I've thought a whole lot about.

"But it is an honour. You look at that list, and I've admired all of those players over those years, whether that's watching from afar growing up or playing alongside a number of them as well.

"It's not a focus point but it's special to be amongst that company."

Williamson, who was eventually dismissed caught down the leg side off part-time bowler Harry Brook, hopes to celebrate his exploits with a victory in Wellington.

"It would be pretty special for sure," he said. "It's exciting going in to day five. As a bowling attack and a team, we want to make sure we're on it come tomorrow.

"There's still some assistance there and some assistance for the slower bowlers as well. All to play for, which is exciting."

Jack Leach took 5-157 from 61.3 overs as England had to be patient, with Tom Blundell (90) and Daryl Mitchell (54) also holding them up.

Zak Crawley was unable to make it through to stumps, Tim Southee cleaning him up for 24. Ben Duckett was still there on 23, with Ollie Robinson taking the nightwatchman role after Crawley departed late in the day.

England require another 210 runs for victory with nine wickets in hand after the history-making Kane Williamson set up a thrilling fifth-day finale with his 26th Test century in Wellington on Monday.

Williamson became New Zealand's all-time leading Test run scorer on his way to 132 as the Black Caps posted 483 in their second innings to set England a target of 258 for victory in the second Test.

The hosts potentially could have set England a target beyond 300 if not for spinner Jack Leach cleaning up the tail in quick time, finishing with 5-157, as New Zealand lost their final four wickets for five runs.

After Zak Crawley survived a Devon Conway run-out chance, Tim Southee removed the opener by jagging one back to take the top of off-stump as England reached stumps at 48-1 from 11 overs, with Ben Duckett (23 not out) and night watchman Ollie Robinson (1 not out) at the crease.

Victory is on the table for either side, with New Zealand roaring back into the contest as they look for a series-levelling win to preserve their record of not losing a home Test series since 2017.

The hosts resumed at 202-3, trailing by 24 runs, and lost Henry Nicholls for 29 to Ollie Robinson before they had got ahead of the ledger. Daryl Mitchell fell to Stuart Broad for a run-a-ball 54 before Williamson took charge alongside Tom Blundell in a 158-run stand which ensured the hosts a shot at victory.

The second session belonged to Williamson and Blundell who batted through, with the former skipper reaching triple figures before tea, while James Anderson dropped the latter.

Williamson eventually departed for 132 from 282 deliveries when Ben Stokes' hopeful review revealed he had tickled a leg-side delivery from Harry Brook, bowling at Test level for the first time, to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.

Foakes' quick thinking led to Michael Bracewell's inexplicable run out before the Black Caps' tail fell meekly searching for fast runs, eager for a crack at England's top order late in the day's play.

Run-chase experts

England have won 10 of their last 11 Tests with fourth-inning run chases and are unlikely to be fazed by the target, despite history suggesting otherwise. The tourists started positively despite their awkward 11-over stay in the final session, erasing almost 20 per cent of the target already.

Black Caps in the game

On the flip side, New Zealand are in with a shot at a remarkable victory. Only three teams in Test history have previously won a game after being made to follow-on.

Kane Williamson has surpassed Ross Taylor to become New Zealand's all-time highest run scorer in Test cricket with his second-innings performance against England.

The former captain headed into day four of the second Test in Wellington needing just four runs to overtake his former team-mate's haul of 7,683.

Williamson achieved the feat with his first runs of the day, clipping James Anderson through mid-wicket boundary in the opening over to reach 7,684.

The top-order batter, widely considered one of the finest players of his generation, has long been expected to surpass the figure, and does so in his 92nd Test match.

He guided the Black Caps to success in the inaugural World Test Championship in 2021, beating India in the final after back-to-back silver-medal finishes in the World Cup.

Between 2016 and 2022, he captained New Zealand in 40 Tests, before relinquishing his red-ball command last December to Tim Southee, though he remains white-ball skipper.

New Zealand are looking to bounce back from a first Test loss to England, after a 267-run defeat at Mount Maunganui.

They struggled in their first innings, mustering just 209 in response to the tourists' total of 435, with Ben Stokes forcing them to follow on.

New Zealand produced strong resistance on day three of the second Test against England in Wellington but remain 24 runs behind with seven wickets in hand at stumps on Sunday.

England enforced the follow-on after bowling out the Black Caps in the first session, with the hosts having resumed at 138-7 following the tourists' first innings score of 435-8 declared.

New Zealand openers Tom Latham (83) and Devon Conway (61) batted through 19 overs to lunch and then through the entire second session to bring the contest back to life.

But the pair both lost their wickets to spin in the final session along with Will Young for 8 as New Zealand reached stumps 202-3, still behind by 24 runs.

Kane Williamson (25 not out) and Henry Nicholls (18 not out) will resume at the crease on day four, hoping to build a sizeable lead to help New Zealand have a shot at a series-levelling victory in the two-game Test series.

Earlier, Tim Southee smashed 73 from 49 balls to rescue New Zealand from a perilous state in their first innings, combining with Tom Blundell (38) for a 98-run eighth-wicket stand.

Southee's knock included six sixes and five fours, narrowing the gap on England's first innings score after Jimmy Anderson had decimated the batting line-up on day two.

Stuart Broad (4-61) claimed all three of the remaining first-innings wicket to hold a 226-run first-innings lead, before captain Ben Stokes opted to enforce the follow on, although he may have been regretting that with Latham and Conway putting on 149 runs for the first wicket.

Jack Leach dropped a tough one-handed caught-and-bowled chance from Latham on 62, before he got Conway caught from an inside edge by Ollie Pope at short leg.

Three overs later Joe Root's part-time spin trapped Latham lbw, with the shout holding up despite a review from the batsman.

Leach bowled Young cheaply, while he had Nicholls dropped by Pope at short leg on 4, before he and Williamson got through to stumps.

Williamson moves within NZ history

Kane Williamson needs only four runs on Monday to become New Zealand's outright all-time Test leading run scorer. Williamson moved to 7680 runs with his unbeaten 25, within three of Ross Taylor's record of 7683.

Taylor played 112 Tests to reach that mark, while 32-year-old Williamson has only needed 92 games. Stephen Fleming is third on the list with 7172 runs from 111 Tests.

Southee into top 10 for most sixes

New Zealand captain Southee is known for his bowling exploits but his swashbuckling knock included six maximums that saw him move equal 10th on the all-time list for most sixes in Test cricket alongside Andrew Flintoff and Matthew Hayden.

Southee, whose highest Test score is 77 not out, has 82 Test sixes, with the record held by opposition skipper Stokes at 109. Opposition coach and former teammate Brendon McCullum is second on the list with 107.

Blair Tickner is hoping the trauma New Zealand has gone through as a nation due to Cyclone Gabrielle will help bring the Test squad together.

Tickner's hometown of Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of the country's north island, has borne the brunt of the cyclone, which has been labelled as the fiercest storm the nation has experienced in living memory.

The official death toll stands at 11 but thousands of homes have been damaged beyond repair.

Tickner, who made his Test debut in the heavy defeat to England at the Bay Oval last week, was given special dispensation to leave the squad and assist the rebuild efforts in Hawke's Bay.

The 29-year-old linked back up with the Black Caps squad in Wellington and, ahead of the second Test starting on Friday at Basin Reserve, believes the team has been brought closer together by the catastrophe.

"I definitely want to get my first win in Test match cricket and really want to do it for the people in Hawke's Bay," he said of the extra motivation he has heading into the second Test.

"Now we've banded together as a team and fundraising this money I think it's going to be very special."

Explaining the damage in his hometown, an emotional Tickner said: "My father's house has been fully destroyed.

"It was good to get back and help them out. And, obviously, it's hard times for the whole region so helping out neighbours and whoever we could.

"Luckily enough, the Central Stags cricket team was helping alongside us. It has been tough. It's really tough at the moment. But [people in] Hawke's Bay are staying strong.

"Obviously, you grow up there as a kid and it's just crazy. A bit hard to talk about, really. There are so many damaged little parts of Hawke's Bay I haven't even seen yet.

"You sort of just get to work: people are just walking down the road and just asking people if they need help and it has just been awesome to see the region pulling together."

England won by 267 runs in the first Test, meaning the best New Zealand can hope for from the two-match series is a draw.

Under the tutelage of New Zealand great Brendon McCullum's coaching and Ben Stokes' captaincy, England have won 10 of their last 11 Tests while playing a thrilling brand of cricket dubbed 'Bazball'.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is enjoying the freedom.

"It kind of feels like club cricket," said Foakes. "When I first came in, the pressures involved in Test cricket were so extreme and you were so worried about playing a false shot and things like that.

"Sometimes now you can get out in a weird way and it's a kind of a joke."
 

England out to extend winning streak

England have won their last four Tests against New Zealand, after going winless across their seven meetings prior in the format (D3, L4).

The last time they enjoyed a longer winning run against the Black Caps was a six-match span from February 1963 to July 1965.

Stokes' team have won their last six Tests. England last had a better such run in the format back in 2004, when they won eight in a row.

Skippers Stokes and Williamson close in on records

Stokes (194) is six away from becoming the 16th player to take 200 wickets for England in men's Tests. 

However, Stokes' Test bowling strike rate against New Zealand (110.8) is his highest against any team.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (7,651 runs), meanwhile, is 33 away from becoming the all-time leading run scorer for New Zealand in men's Tests.

Ben Stokes and Sam Curran are among the England T20 World Cup winners who could go for big money in the Indian Premier League auction on Friday.

The 10 franchises have varying amounts of cash to splash in Kochi, where some big names will be up for grabs.

Stokes opted out of the IPL this year, but England's Test captain and Curran, the player of the tournament in their recent World Cup triumph, are two of the 19 overseas players with the highest base price of 2.0 crore – worth just over £200,000.

Chris Morris was sold for a record 16,25 crore in February 2021 and it would be no surprise if that is broken as ambitious franchises shape their squads for the 2023 edition of the tournament.

There are a total of 87 slots to be filled, with up to 30 of those available for overseas players.

Stats Perform highlight what to look out for in the latest auction for a competition that was won by debutants the Gujarat Titans this year.

Sunrisers have money to burn

Sunrisers Hyderabad wielded the axe following a poor 2022 IPL season, having finished down in eighth place.

They suffered eight defeats and reacted by releasing 12 players, including captain and most expensive player Kane Williamson.

Sunrisers have the most money to spend in the auction, with 42,25 crore burning a hole in their pockets. On the other end of the scale, Kolkata Knight Riders only have 7,05 crore to play with.

Hyderabad could opt to re-sign Williamson on a less lucrative deal for the New Zealand skipper.

Curran to break the record?

England all-rounder Curran was outstanding in the T20 World Cup, taking 13 wickets – including 3-12 against Pakistan in the final last month.

Possessing great variation and giving little away, the left-arm seamer is sure to be in demand and could be in for a huge early Christmas present.

Stokes, Williamson, Cameron Green, Rilee Rossouw, Jimmy Neesham and Jason Holder are among the other overseas players with a base price of 2,0 crore.

With a base price of 1,5 crore, Harry Brook could also earn a big pay day for what would be a first IPL after a dream start to his England career.

 

Pandey and Agarwal under the hammer

Manish Pandey and Mayank Agarwal are the two Indian players with the highest base price in the auction.

The first Indian player to score an IPL century, Pandey has a base price of 1,0 crore and the same goes for fellow batter Agarwal.

Pandey was released by Lucknow Super Giants, while Agarwal was allowed to leave by Punjab Kings.

Record-breaking teenager Ahmed to cap a dream week

What a story it would be if Rehan Ahmed is picked up in the auction after making history in England's Test win over Pakistan in Karachi.

The 18-year-old leg-spinning all-rounder became the youngest man to make his England Test debut as they secured a 3-0 whitewash and the teenager made a big impact.

Ahmed became the youngest man to take a five-wicket haul on his Test debut in the second innings and would cost at least 0.5 crore – although there are due to be discussions over what his schedule will be after his incredible start on the international stage.

Kane Williamson has stepped down as New Zealand's Test captain and will be replaced by Tim Southee, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced on Wednesday.

Captain in the Test format since 2016, Williamson has won 22 of his 38 matches as Black Caps skipper, ranking second all-time in victories behind Stephen Fleming.

Williamson led the team to victory in the ICC World Test Championship final last year when they defeated India by eight wickets in England.

The 32-year-old has struggled with an elbow injury of late and he has not scored a century since January 2021 against Pakistan.

The decision comes with Williamson reportedly wanting to manage his workload, though he will continue to captain the team in T20I and ODI matches.

Southee is an experienced replacement, having played 346 internationals since making his New Zealand debut in 2008.

The fast bowler will become the Black Caps' 31st Test captain later on this month when his team's tour to Pakistan begins.

Opener Tom Latham will assume the role of vice-captain having previously deputised for Williamson during his injury absence.

Williamson feels it is the right time to step back from his role in the red-ball team, saying in the NZC's statement: "Captaining the BLACKCAPS in Test cricket has been an incredibly special honour.

"For me, Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game and I've enjoyed the challenges of leading the side in the format.

"Captaincy comes with an increased workload on and off the field and at this stage of my career I feel the time is right for this decision.

"After discussions with NZC, we felt that continuing to captain the white-ball formats was preferable with two World Cups in the next two years.

"I'm excited to support Tim [Southee] as captain and Tom [Latham] as vice-captain. Having played with both of them for most of my career, I'm confident they'll do a great job.

"Playing for the BLACKCAPS and contributing in all three formats is my number one priority and I'm looking forward to the cricket we have ahead."

David White, NZC CEO, added: "Kane is one of our all-time greats and our priority is to ensure he enjoys his cricket and plays for New Zealand for as long as possible.

"He's a brilliant leader and the success the team has achieved during his time in the longest and arguably toughest format of the game, has been nothing short of remarkable.

"Statistically, he's the most successful Test captain we've ever had – which culminated in the team rising to the number one ICC Test ranking at the start of 2021 and the eventual victory in the ICC World Test Championship Final in June that year."

Southee spoke of his pride at being named the new captain, declaring: "It's been a surreal few days and it’s just a massive honour to be appointed as Test captain.

"Kane's been an outstanding Test captain and I'm looking forward to working with Gary [Stead, New Zealand head coach] on how we can build on that."

New Zealand get their tour to Pakistan underway on December 26, when the first Test starts in Karachi.

A magnificent stand from Tom Latham and Kane Williamson sealed a seven-wicket win for New Zealand over India in the first ODI of the series at Eden Park.

Shreyas Iyer (80 off 76 balls), captain Shikhar Dhawan (72) and Shubman Gill (50) made half-centuries as the tourists posted an imposing 306-7 in Auckland on Friday.

Tim Southee (3-73) and Lockie Ferguson (3-59) were the pick of the bowlers for the Black Caps, who then showed why they are top of the rankings in the 50-over format with a brilliant run chase.

It was advantage India after Umran Malik (2-66) struck twice on his debut to leave New Zealand 88-3 in the 20th over, but an unbroken partnership of 221 from Latham and Williamson secured a resounding win with 17 balls to spare.

Latham made a sublime unbeaten 145 off 104 balls and skipper Williamson 94 not out as the Blacks Caps made a strong response to their T20I series loss to India.

Dhawan and Gill laid a great platform with a century stand, but both openers fell with 124 on the board before Ferguson cleaned Rishabh Pant and also got rid of Suryakumar Yadav cheaply.

Iyer struck four sixes and as many fours, while Washington Sundar (37 off 16) provided late impetus and Sanju Samson chipped in with 36.

Umran had Devon Conway caught behind and saw the back of Daryl Mitchell after Finn Allen fell to Shardul Thakur, but that was as good as it got for India as Latham and Williamson took the game away from them.

The experienced duo steadied the ship and then started to motor, with India - missing a host of regulars - unable to halt the flow of runs, Arshdeep Singh going for 68 from 8.1 overs on his ODI bow.

Yet another milestone for Southee

It was another memorable day for New Zealand paceman Southee, who became only the fifth New Zealand bowler to take 200 ODI wickets.

He moved above Chris Cairns to go fourth on the list of the Black Caps' leading wicket-takers in this format.

Southee is also the first player to take 300 Test wickets, claim 200 ODI scalps and 100 T20I dismissals.

Latham and Williamson put on a show

The game was in the balance when Latham came in at number five to join his skipper at the crease.

It had soon swung firmly in New Zealand's favour courtesy of brilliant knocks from such a consistent duo that have delivered time and again over the years.

Wicketkeeper-batter Latham raced to his seventh ODI century off only 76 balls, ending up with five sixes and another 19 boundaries. The composed and classy Williamson registered a staggering 40th ODI half-century.

New Zealand face a test of their ODI strength against 2023 World Cup hosts India – and they must do so without a mainstay in Martin Guptill.

Veteran opener Guptill, who has played 198 ODIs, has followed in the footsteps of fellow experienced stars Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme in seeking a release from his New Zealand Cricket contract.

That has been granted, and while Guptill insists he remains available for international duty as he seeks playing opportunities elsewhere, he will play no part in the series that starts on Friday.

The Black Caps return to their Eden Park stronghold for game one of a three-match series. They have won six of their last seven men's ODIs at the Auckland ground, including a 22-run victory against India in their last match at the venue, in February 2020.

New Zealand swept that series 3-0, but the last time they won back-to-back ODI series against India was when they prevailed in 1976 and 1981.

These are two of the titans of the ODI game, likely to be major contenders come the World Cup next October and November.

India have won seven of their last eight multi-game bilateral ODI series, including five in a row since losing 3-0 to South Africa at the start of this year, while New Zealand's recent run of four series successes was ended with a 3-0 loss to Australia in September.

New Zealand have not lost back-to-back ODI series since October 2017, when they were beaten 2-1 by India. Guptill featured then but sits this one out, and it remains to be seen whether he will be back, with 23-year-old Finn Allen preferred for now.

Home captain Kane Williamson said of Guptill on Thursday: "He's made a decision to explore a few other options, but as a player and as an experienced member of the group, he's added so much value over the years and been one of our best white-ball players ever.

"[He] absolutely will be missed, but he is not retired, so there's a lot to keep working through over the next period to get a real feel for how the picture looks."

India are under-strength, with captain Rohit Sharma leading the absentees, who also include Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah. Shikhar Dhawan captains the tourists.

New Zealand seek to avenge soggy setback in T20s

India won the three-match T20 series between these sides by a 1-0 margin after the first game was abandoned without a ball being bowled, and the third was called a tie on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern rules after rain arrived when it was evenly poised.

It has to be hoped the wet weather stays away this time, with Williamson one game away from equalling Daniel Vettori (82) for the second-most appearances as captain for New Zealand in men's ODIs.

Only Stephen Fleming, away and clear with 218 games as captain, has led the Black Caps more often.

India must prepare well for Bracewell

New Zealand batter Michael Bracewell has hit 17 boundaries (10 fours, seven sixes) during the death overs (41st to 50th) in men's ODIs in 2022, more than any other player from a Test-playing country this year.

If it comes to the crunch and Bracewell is at the wicket, New Zealand will fancy their chances.

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