|Scorecard:||India v New Zealand|
|Player:||Yuvraj Singh, SK Raina, A Nehra, SR Tendulkar, DL Vettori, RS Dravid|
|Event:||Compaq Cup 2009|
DateLine: 11th September 2009
When the Indians reached the Lankan shores, they were just three wins away from being the number one ranked team in the world. Seeing the way the first game folded, especially the manner in which the Black Caps succumbed to Sri Lankan bowling under lights, a few heads would surely have dropped after Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost the toss and Daniel Vettori decided to bat.
But when a team aims for the number one spot, it has to sometimes rewrite history a little. The Indians under a cool captain did just that. First the bowlers bowled to a plan and made sure the batting does not have much work to do and then the batting took over finishing the game with plenty to spare. Helped my masterly knocks from Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, India went past the Kiwi total of 155 runs with 6 wickets and more than 9 overs in hand.
Chasing 156 to win, India did not start well losing Dinesh Karthik to a poor decision. A Kyle Mills delivery landed on a length just outside off and moved in to hit him on the middle and leg line. The hawk-eye suggested that leather would have missed the leg stump but the dreaded finger was raised.
Then comeback man Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar added 60 runs for the second wicket during which Dravid was seen labouring for his runs (14 off 45 balls). He took five balls to get off the mark and did face many a testing moments as he adjusted himself to this format. Shane Bond repetitively tested Dravid with short deliveries but Dravid negated Bond's aggression with his gifted grit, only to be trapped in front by Jacob Oram.
Tendulkar, though looked at his best on a pitch which till now seemed to be a graveyard for batsman. The 36-year-old champion treated the little crowd to some stunning display of shots. Mills became a soft target as time and again he was whipped across the line for boundaries. He did not spare any bowler till he got out and welcomed Ian Butler to the bowling crease with a fierce cut behind point. Then Vettori was hammered off the back foot as Sachin closed in on fifty, but a clever change of pace made him offer a simplest of chances to cover. Such was the dismissal that the bowler, the batsman and the catcher all couldn't believe it.
A while later Yuvraj popped a catch attempting to play another slog-sweep for four off Vettori. At this point of time The Indians did look in a bit of bother as the infamous Premadasa wobble was lurking around the corner. MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina though had other ideas.
The duo completed the formalities with a lot to spare and while reaching the target, Raina treated the crowd to some scintillating shot making which included two slog sweep sixes. Skipper Dhoni was happy playing second fiddle all the time as India reached home with six wickets and more than 9 overs still in the kitty.
With this win India have thrown New Zealand out of the competition and though the match between India and Sri Lanka tomorrow remains a formality, Indians cannot take it lightly considering that only if they win all the three games they will enter the Champions Trophy as the number one ranked team. Earlier, having lost an important toss, Indian bowlers made sure they give nothing else away to the Kiwi batting line-up. A strong left-arm Indian attack, led first by seamers Ashish Nehra, RP Singh and then by Yuvraj Singh, were on top of the batting from the time the first wicket fell. Nehra started the Black Caps downfall from the first over itself when on the third ball he had Jesse Ryder rapped in front of his wickets.
Then Brendon McCullum's wicket gave him his 100th scalp. Brendon also became a victim of a similar inswinging delivery. All Kiwi hopes now rested on the dependable Ross Taylor (11), but the Indian attack of two left-arm seamers, both out there to cement their place in the side made sure even the attacking Ross was kept in check. RP beat him again and again with his awayswingers and finally he edged one for MS Dhoni to take an easy one.
New Zealand were in deep trouble at this stage having lost three wickets with just 19 on the board. Martin Guptill and Grant Elliott took centerstage and put together a face saving partnership of 32 runs but just when both looked settled, Yuvraj started to turn the ball square. First Guptill and then Elliott both succumbed to the occasional left-armer. Guptill's dismissal though had a lot of Rahul Dravid impression on it, as the safe catcher took a blinder dying on him at slip, this one being his 194th pouch.
The New Zealand batting had a pattern to it. There were small partnerships and just when the two batsmen at thecrease looked settled, they got out. The Black Caps were plagued by something similar in the Test series and this format was proving not to be of much difference. Again after the fall of the fifth wicket, Jacob Oram and Neil Broom stitched 35 runs together.
Both Broom and Oram were doing quite well at the crease and were even sometimes advancing down the track to Harbhajan and company. This made Dhoni bring back Ishant into the attack and the ploy worked as Oram gave the fast bowler a simple return catch on his very first delivery. Broom also did not last long, getting out to the first ball after the second drinks intervel to a loose shot off the bowling of Yuvraj Singh.
By this time it was all done and dusted for the Kiwi batting. For the efforts of Daniel Vettori (25) who eventually turned out to be the highest scorer (though there were four other batsman who fell in the 20's) the Black Caps were able to cross the 150 hurdle.
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