Batsmen gives India 2-0 lead

8 03 2009

The introduction of powerplays has changed the run-scoring patterns in the One-day Internationals. Today Yuvraj and Sachin proved to the world how a well-timed powerplay could boost your team score to astronomical levels.
We’ve seen that historical chase in Johannesburg in which South Africa overhauled Australia’s 433. But it is not on many occasions that a team scores 392 in an ODI match and feels that it might have to really bowl well to defend.

The third ODI match between India and NZ at Christchurch was a run fest. As much as 726 runs were scored in the day, the second best to the match played three years ago in Johannesburg. The match has kept the statisticians busy and you could read this article (http://content.cricinfo.com/nzvind2009/content/story/394276.html) that explains how records tumbled in the AMI Stadium.

India batted first on a wicket that was a bit two-paced to begin with. The ball was not coming on to the bat and the bowlers had some help in the initial overs. Virender Sehwag was undone by a delivery that kept low from Mills, who bowled a good opening spell. Gautam Gambhir too struggled to middle the ball and perished, fishing at a delivery outside the off-stump.

Just when it looked 250 was a par score on this track, in came Yuvraj Singh. Barring the 50 he made in the T20 match in Wellington, Yuvraj was yet to make any kind of contribution in this NZ tour. Coming in at a time when the run-rate dropped to five an over, he stared with a beautifully played cover drive of very first ball he faced. Sachin was looking good from the outset at the other end and looked set for another big score.

The batting powerplay changed things for India. In the five overs that followed from overs 23-27, India scored 69 runs without the loss of a wicket. Sachin and Yuvraj launched an all-out assault on the NZ bowlers as they erred in line and length. Yuvi’s form was so imperious that even the good ones kept disappearing over the ropes. Even Jacob Oram, who bowled economically in his first five overs was not spared in the powerplay overs. Yuvi and Sachin continued the good work even after the powerplay and provided India the impetus to post a 400-score.

Sachin Tendulkar reached his 43rd ODI hundred and went on to make a brilliant 163* before a stomach muscle pull forced him to retire hurt. MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina continued the good work done by Sachin and Yuvi and propelled India to 392. Jacob Oram and Mills were the pick of the NZ bowlers. Southee, brought in for Blogger O Brien was taken for 105 runs off his 10 overs, pretty close to the 113 runs conceded by Mick Lewis in that Jo’burg match.

India would have been on a high at the lunch break and would have thought that they had this match in the bag after the impressive batting performance.

But McCullum and Jesse Ryder had other plans. Jesse was brutal on anything short or full and McCullum was improvisation at its best. They steadily maintained a run-rate of 6.5 an over until the 12th over after which they started attacking even further. The 100 came up in fifteen overs and NZ had a match on their hands.

Harbhajan Singh was brought in the 16th over and was taken for 17 runs by Ryder, including two big hits to the fence. In no time, NZ raced to 166/0 in 22 overs.

India did themselves no favour in the field, dropping two catches and misfielding every now and then. It was shocking to see Raina and Yuvraj failing to get their bodies behind the ball while fielding and conceding boundaries in the process. Dhoni dropped one too and while India were waiting for a window of opportunity through the first break, Ryder ran McCullum out. The calling between the two had been poor all day and the lack of understanding ended McCullum’s excellent innings. Ryder accounted for Taylor soon often in another mix-up and that brought India back into the match.

Harbhajan and Yuvraj ran through the middle order and had NZ tottering at 251/8. India then started relaxing and allowed Southee and Mills to put on a 83 run partnership in no time. Mills scored a hard-hitting fifty and in the able company of Southee, briefly threatened to take the match away from India, as they required 59 of 30 balls.

Munaf, who was mightly expensive, was taken out of the attack when he dished out two waist-high full-tosses in the same over. Yusuf Pathan was called on to complete his quota, and accounted for Mills in the same over. Praveen Kumar ended Southee’s stay at the crease and India coasted home with 58 runs on the board.

Dhoni, understandably, was not pleased with India’s bowling and fielding performance. Though he was happy for pulling things off after the Ryder-McCullum partnership, he would seriously be worried about the drop chances and Munaf’s lacklustre bowling.
He was extremely critical of players not giving their 100 % on the field.

India would look to replace Munaf with either a fit Ishant or Irfan Pathan and Vettori is more likely to take Jeetan Patel’s place as NZ desperately need him back to bowl in the middle overs.

India might have got home in Christchurch, but it was not so convincing as the margin of victory suggests.

On a different note, I loved the placard that read “If you drink and coverdrive, you have to be a bloody Ryder”.

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