Pandya’s blitzkrieg fails to save the ‘blushes’ for Team India: Well he ‘set up’ the victory for Team India ‘with the ball’ at Dharmashala and almost won the game for India in a ‘nail-biting’ finish at Firoz Shah Kotla, but a ’rush of blood’ in the pen-ultimate delivery of the 49th over, put paid to all hopes of an exciting chase and finish for the home team.
With just 6 runs needed in 8 deliveries, Trent Boult dug a delivery short to Hardik Pandya, who encountered the ball way outside the crease in an attempt to slap it down the ground, off the front foot with a flat bat, but only succeeded in getting a top edge and the ball flew towards Mitchell Santner in the sweeper boundary. It was all over.
Pandya had to walk back to the pavilion, having scored 36 runs off 32 deliveries at a strike rate of 112.50, with the help of 3 boundaries.
At the fall of skipper, Dhoni’s wicket with the score reading 172 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 39.3 overs, Pandya, who made his ODI debut at Dharmashala, walked in to join Axar Patel, with the home team requiring another 71 runs in 10.3 overs at an asking rate of 6.89 an over.
Taking control at one end, Pandya kept the score board ticking with Axar Patel (17) and Amit Mishra (1) giving company for a brief period.
At a time when it was felt that the game was all but over, Umesh Yadav provided a strong support to Pandya. Taking singles at every available opportunity, Yadav passed on maximum strike to the Gujarat youngster, who took command and kept the game alive.
Coming within striking distance, lack of experience in handling crisis situation by Pandya, who was just playing his second game, came to the fore and demolished whatever little hope the home team had for a miraculous win.
Earlier, winning the toss, Dhoni opted to field, quoting the dew factor that would set in the late evening.
Dhoni’s bowlers did not disappoint him, with Umesh Yadav removing the opener, Martin Guptill with a beauty of a delivery, a full length one that moved away from the batsman just enough to take the outside edge of the bat and kissed the off stump, knocking it out of the ground. This happened in the very second delivery of the match. The spectators had not even settled down by then.
A good partnership of 120 runs for the second wicket between Tom Latham and the skipper, Kane Williamson, brought some respectability to the score. However, Latham was given ‘leg before’ to a delivery from Kedar Jadhav that struck the batsman on the front pad and possibly might have missed the leg stump. But the on-field Umpire thought otherwise and was very quick in raising his index finger on being appealed.
Latham scored 46 runs off 46 deliveries with 6 fours and a solitary six.
Wiliamson waged a lone battle keeping up one end with the likes of Ross Taylor (21) and Corey Anderson (21) giving company for short period of time.
In the process he registered his 14th ODI century in his 99th innings. Staying put at the crease for 183 minutes, Kane faced 128 deliveries and notched up 118 runs at a strike rate of 92.18 with 14 fours and a six.
New Zealand managed to put up 242 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in 50 overs.
For India, Jasprit Bumrah (10-0-35-3) and the veteran leggie, Amit Mishra (10-0-60-3) shared the maximum spoils with Umesh Yadav and Kedar Jadhav chipping in with a wicket each.
India did not start well, losing Rohit Sharma (15), Virat Kohli (9), Ajinkya Rahane (28) and Manish Pandey (19) – in that order – with just 73 runs on the board in 19.2 overs.
However, Rahane was a bit unlucky to be given out caught by Andersen, by the third umpire, when television replays showed the ball touching the turf before sailing into the fielder’s hands.
Later Dhoni and Jadhav built the innings adding 63 runs for the fifth wicket before Jadhav was caught behind by Luke Ronchi while he tried to execute a low down delivery from Henry to the third man but could not control the bounce and the ball looped to the wicket-keeper.
Jadhav’s personal contribution was 41 runs off 37 deliveries with a couple of fours and sixes each.
Dhoni carried on in his style in the company of Axar Patel. At one point of time it looked as if the ‘finisher’ Dhoni was on the prowl and would steer the team to safety.
But the third delivery of the 40th over bowled by Tim Southee had a different tale. Dhoni pushed the ball a shade too early which came right back down the pitch to the bowler. Southee, who was moving towards his left on his follow through, saw the ball returning towards him and dived forward to take a brilliant low down single handed catch that sent the Indian skipper (alongwith the hopes of a win) back to the pavilion.
Dhoni had notched up 39 runs off 65 balls with 3 fours.
Though Pandya showed some signs of taking Team India across the line, destiny had other options.
New Zealand, having lost the first encounter, equalised at Firoz Shah Kotla and are at 1-1 level in the series.
Kane Williamson, skipper and the Man of the Match, speaking to Ravi Shastri at the post match presentation said,” The wicket wasn”t easy to increase the scoring rate, at the halfway stage we were a few off where we wanted to be, a lot of credit to the way we bowled, to create pressure on that surface was key and Trent Boult was outstanding. the bowling was huge for us, we were below par but we did have enough runs to create a squeeze, dealing the with dew is never easy …. the dew didn”t help the spinners and they did a great job, there wasn”t much turn but they did great for us. Seam bowling was easier to face on that surface. It was a good game of cricket, credit to India, they fought all the way …”
Indian skipper, Dhoni, on his part said, “I feel this was one game where we lost wickets against the run of play, it was not that the deliveries were good, we just kept losing wickets. Until the end we had the run rate under control … When you”re chasing you need to play 50 overs and at one stage it didn”t look like we would. I felt the NZ bowlers bowled really well … but we just kept losing wickets. I dont think there was a lot of dew, it was not coming out to the bat … I think we bowled really well, after the new ball it was key to get reverse swing and put pressure on the batsman, Mishy bowled well and got crucial wickets …”