Shocked and jolted, India will look to bring the ODI leg of their New Zealand tour back on track in the second match at Hamilton on Wednesday - after losing the first from a winning position.
Virat Kohli's 18th ODI century seemed to have lifted the sagging spirits after another disappointing show by the bowlers, but a middle order collapse exposed a few chinks in the Indian batting as well.
Kohli and Dhoni were in control of India's chase of 293, but Kohli's dismissal put the banana skin under Indian middle order that caved in against the pace of Mitchell McClenaghan (4 for 68) to lose by 24 runs.
A disappointed Shikhar Dhawan walks off in the first ODI as NZ players celebrate his dismissal. (AFP Photo)
That laid bare India's over-dependency on Kohli and put further question marks on Suresh Raina's silent bat, while hinting that unless the visitors get good starts at the top from Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, it will be difficult to negotiate New Zealand's battery of fast bowlers in seaming conditions.
Rohit's last three ODI appearances have resulted in 18, 19 and 3, while for Dhawan the figures read 12, 0, and 32. The pair that set the ODIs ablaze with six century stands in 2013 have had a best partnership of just 15 in India's last three one-day outings in Johannesburg, Durban and Napier.
Incidentally India lost all those games, highlighting that the team's batting woes overseas start at the top. The bad luck for India is that both Dhawan and Rohit are facing a slump in form at the same time.
The middle-order headache remains a constant for Dhoni, and Raina's continuous failure will force him to look at Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny waiting on the bench.
Not to forget, India's bowling continues to gift runs to the opposition, with the Kiwis scoring 92 runs in the last 10 overs of their innings in Napier and Ishant Sharma once again being the chief culprit by conceding 72 runs in his nine overs.
Mohammad Shami (4 for 55) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1 for 38) remain the only two consistent performers, with R Ashwin's wicket-taking deliveries continuing to elude him overseas.
In such a scenario, it won't be a bad idea to rejig the bowling combination for the second one-dayer, especially when you have replacements available in the form of Varun Aaron, Ishwar Pandey and Amit Mishra.
World No. 8 New Zealand, however, will do well to not underestimate India's ability to bounce back as it's not beyond the visitors.
Brendon McCullum's only worry ahead of Wednesday is the absence of pace sensation Adam Milne, who has been ruled out of the series after an abdominal muscle tear. Hamish Bennett has been summoned after a two-year absence, but Kyle Mills is the frontrunner to replace Milne in the eleven.
In comparison to India's No. 4 to No. 7, Ross Taylor (55), Brendon McCullum (30), Corey Anderson (68) and Luke Ronchi (30) provided New Zealand the middle-order push they need to post a formidable 292 for 7. And Kane Williamson scored 71 at No. 3, which ensured there were no major hiccups in Napier after the openers fell cheaply.
Apart from McClenaghan (4 for 68 in 10) and Kane Williamson, who bowled just 1.3 overs, every New Zealand bowler conceded less than six runs an over, which will keep McCullum from changing his bowling set-up for the second ODI.
But rain may also have a say on Wednesday with Hamilton being visited by the rain gods for the last two days. But pitch curator Andrew Brown believes it could remain a run-scoring track should there be no more rain.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mithcell McClenaghan
India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma/Varun Aaron, 11 Mohammed Shami