By BV Swagath
A sluggish innings of 22* from 23 balls from Skipper MS Dhoni made a complete mess of what could have been an easy run chase in the second and final T20I at Chennai. India went onto lose the match by 1 run as MS Dhoni’s strategy of holding back the big shots proved to be a blunder. As a result, Virat Kohli’s gem of a knock went in total vain as New Zealand ended their short tour of India with a solitary victory.
India was off to a bright start chasing 168 thanks to Virat Kohli who in a new role of an opener stroked the ball sweetly around to collect boundaries at will. Along with Suresh Raina, Kohli laid the foundation with the hosts at 86 for 2 in the 11th over. Kohli fell in the 14th over holing out to long off after a sweet knock of 70 from just 41 balls with 10 fours and a six.
The match was nicely set up for an Indian victory when MS Dhoni joined comeback man Yuvraj Singh with 48 more to get from 40 balls. Yuvraj Singh played a majestic hoick off Vettori for a six but lost momentum in his partnership with MS Dhoni. All of a sudden, the pressure was building on India with 32 needed from the last three overs. Yuvraj somehow slogged one more six and that helped India to reduce the equation to 13 from the final over to be bowled by James Franklin.
Yuvraj Singh (34 from 26 balls with a four and 2 sixes) was dismissed in the fourth ball of the final over leaving the hosts with 6 runs to get from two balls but with a new man Rohit Sharma on strike! Rohit managed to get four runs out of those two balls while MS Dhoni was stranded at the other end failing to repair the damage he had done to the run chase. Franklin with 2 for 26 in 4 overs and Oram with 0 for 27 in 4 overs did the finishing job for the Kiwis with their nagging slower ones. Brendon McCullum collected the Man of the Match for his 91.
New Zealand Innings: Brendon McCullum’s smashing knock of 91 helped Kiwis put up a challenging total of 167 for 5. McCullum was on fire taking the Indian bowlers to the cleaners but the Kiwis in the end lost steam to fall short of a much bigger total.
It was a disastrous start for the Kiwis at 2 for 2 in 1.3 overs with both the openers getting bowled trying to flick across the line. The tourists then nicely got back into the game thanks to the brilliance of Brendon McCullum with young Kane Williamson (28 from 26 balls) playing the perfect second fiddle in a 3rd wicket stand of 90.
McCullum after doing considerable damage with his blistering shots finally got out in the 17th over, bowled round his legs to a back of the hand slower one from Irfan Pathan with the Kiwis at 139 for 4. The Wicket Keeper batsman made 91 from 55 balls with 11 fours and 3 sixes.
New Zealand in the end were restricted to 167 for 5 despite Ross Taylor (25* from 19 balls) staying at the crease. India’s three medium pacers did a fabulous job with Zaheer Khan coming up with 1 for 27 in 4 overs, Irfan Pathan with 3 for 31 in 4 overs and L Balaji with 1 for 33 in 4 overs. R Ashwin had an off day as he went for 34 runs in three overs.
Toss and Teams: India has won the toss and elected to field in the second and final T20I at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. MS Dhoni has stated that Virender Sehwag is missing out in this match because of an injury. Harbhajan Singh hasn’t been selected and along with him warming up the bench are Chawla, Dinda and of course Sehwag. Meanwhile the Kiwis have filled their team with all the specialist T20 players who have flown in for this series.
The pitch at Chepauk promises to be a belter for the batsmen but at the same time there is enough to encourage the spinners.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Zaheer Khan
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (WK), Ross Taylor (C), Kane Williamson, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills, Ronnie Hira, Adam Milne