India v/s New Zealand 2nd ODI: Match Report

A perfect day, a perfect captain’s knock and plan executed to perfection. In the end, India cantered home with seven overs in hand. Chasing 259, the hosts started brightly with Gambhir riding his luck with two Chinese cuts of Mills’s bowling. He grew in confidence with each passing bowl and nudged, lofted inside out and drove through the off side with elan. Murali Vijay, on the other hand, was happy to play second fiddle and the duo and gave India the perfect start. At 87, Murali’s temperament gave way and he tried to hit his problem out (Vettori) only to see his stumps rattled.

That brought in form, Kohli to the centre and his cautious start soon gave way to cover drives, flicks, pulls and, in between the charisma, quick scampered ones and twos. But it was Gambhir’s night. His nonchalance was evident as he kept hitting boundaries at will and churned the strike over without much hassles. In the 34th over, Kohli brought up his half century and by then it was all but over. New Zealand tried as many as seven bowlers and even started the bowling with part time off spin of McCullum. But it lacked penetration and the dew and chill of evening meant that there wasn’t much turn which was there in the first half. At 203 Kohli got out but Gambhir shifted into top gear and Yuvraj came and hit a six and a boundary to ease India to a 2-0 lead.

Early in the afternoon, India won the toss and, as expected, opted to field. It took Nehra and Sreesanth just one over to gauge the length and line to be bowling on the hard placid pitch of Jaipur and they (Sreesanth in particular) gave a perfect opening spell. The new ball was coming onto the bat and it was testimony of the fine spell that New Zealand managed just 39 in the first 10 overs.

Kiwis hovered around four runs per over and boundaries were completely dried up. To add to it, Williamson and Taylor got out at the wrong time which meant the middle part never saw any troubles for India. Spinners came in and the soft ball stayed low, stopped and turned. Ashwin stifled the Black caps and the problems got compounded when Kiwis decided to stay on a cautious mode even when part timers (Yuvraj, Pathan, Raina) were brought in.

Guptill held one end through his gritty 70 but was adjudged rather dubiously caught behind. Styris provided some impetus to the innings but when he and skipper Vettori went of successive deliveries to Sreesanth, who rounded of his good day with 4/47, the New Zealand innings was summed up. 258 as Gambhir said in a post match conference was decent but in the end they fell short of around 20-25 runs. Even that would not have yielded a win. Such was the lopsidedness of the match.

Aatish Sharma