India vs New Zealand 2017, 2nd ODI: Hardik Pandya bouncing out Ross Taylor is SK Turning Point of the Match
The all-rounder picked up the key wicket of Taylor to pave the way for a facile Indian victory.
With over 6500 ODI runs at a splendid average in excess of 44, Ross Taylor is one of the most experienced and reliable batsmen in the modern game. Fresh off a brilliant 95 which helped New Zealand win the first ODI in Mumbai, the 33-year-old was looking to create another game-changing partnership with Tom Latham in the second match. However, all-rounder Hardik Pandya bounced out the right-hander to pave the way for India to assume control and register a comfortable 6-wicket victory at the MCA Stadium in Pune.
The vital wicket of Taylor came at the right time for the hosts who proceeded to restrict the Kiwis to a below-par total through a collective performance with the ball. Riding on the back of Shikhar Dhawan's composed 68 as well as Dinesh Karthik's unbeaten 64, India cruised to the easy target and levelled the series with one match to play.
Here's how Pandya's crucial breakthrough pegged back New Zealand in the second game.
Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah make early inroads
Despite winning the toss, Blackcaps skipper Kane Williamson surprisingly decided to veer away from the template set in the previous ODI, opting to bat first. Perhaps the move was aimed at protecting his fast bowlers from the sapping heat and humidity. Either way, it allowed India to return to their preferred trend of chasing.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah got the home team off to a sensational start by tearing into New Zealand's top-order. While the former swung the ball substantially, his new-ball partner operated with sharp pace to unsettle the belligerent batsmen.
While Bhuvneshwar got rid of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro with his propensity to generate significant movement, Bumrah procured the massive scalp of Kane Williamson by trapping him in front with an unplayable delivery. After the end of seven overs, the Kiwis were tottering at 27/3.
Pandya snares the big fish
Just like they did in the opening match of the series, Taylor and Latham combined in order to resuscitate the innings. Even as the right-hander showed his extensive experience by manoeuvring the field, his batting partner appeared to pick up from he had left off in Mumbai.
When it seemed like another big partnership was on the horizon, Pandya separated the in-form duo with a vicious bouncer. Looking to push Taylor on the back foot, the seamer unleashed an accurate short delivery at the head of the batsman. The seasoned campaigner did not shy away, responding with a hook shot. However, he could only manage a thin under-edge which landed in the safe gloves of wicket-keeper MS Dhoni.
Needless to say, the excitement of scalping a huge wicket was writ on Pandya's face. Meanwhile, Taylor walked off the field with a wry smile. He had taken an unnecessary risk at an inopportune time and consequently handed over all the momentum to India.
India restrict New Zealand and cruise to victory
After stitching together a 60-run partnership with Henry Nicholls, Latham perished while attempting his favourite sweep shot. From then on, New Zealand's innings started to derail. The Indian bowlers hunted as a pack to restrict their prey to an inadequate total of 230 for the loss of nine wickets.
Chasing a middling target in a must-win match can be a tricky task. But Dhawan showed his class by anchoring the early stages of the Indian innings. By the time he was dismissed, the southpaw had brought down the required number of runs to fewer than 100. Karthik brought up his second ODI half-century of the year and Pandya chipped in with the bat as well to propel India to a series-squaring victory, with one game left.
In recent times, Pandya has shown his utility to the team's fortunes across all three formats. The sharp bouncer to Taylor was yet another example of his ever-improving bowling skills. The timely wicket not only helped India take the dangerous batsman out of the equation but also reiterated the all-rounder's knack of coming up with important contributions across multiple departments of the game.