New Zealand vs India: New Zealand withstand Jadeja-Saini scare to clinch series
New Zealand: 273/8
Martin Guptill 79(79), Ross Taylor 73(74); Yuzvendra Chahal 3/58
India: 251 all out
Ravindra Jadeja 55(73), Shreyas Iyer 52(57); Tim Southee 2/41
For detailed scorecard and match commentary, click here
Auckland's potential decider rekindled the memories of India's traumatizing 2019 World Cup semi-final los where New Zealand, despite posting miserable numbers, emerged victorious courtesy India's lackluster batting performance. Likewise, some horrendous shot-making and temperamental incompetence saw India's batsmen mess up the facile 273-run chase to gift New Zealand an unassailable 2-0 series lead on Eden Park's featherbed. Ravindra Jadeja proved his viability yet again by taking the game deep, but ran out of partners eventually and couldn't pull off a miracle finish.
Making early incisions was of paramount importance for New Zealand if they stood any chance of defending the exiguous total, and Mayank Agrawal's early departure lifted their spirits. Having unfurled some gorgeous strokes, Prithvi Shaw followed suit, castled by debutant Kyle Jamieson's nip-backer. India's hopes now rested with skipper Virat Kohli, but Tim Southee nabbed the prized scalp, leaving the visitors in choppy waters. KL Rahul dragged on prematurely, further aggravating India's troubles.
Even Kedar Jadhav perished cheaply, but Shreyas Iyer's counter-attacking strokeplay meant India kept the asking rate under control and inched towards victory. Moments after accomplishing the half-century landmark, a sudden lapse in concentration saw Iyer attempt an obnoxious slash and feather behind Hamish Bennett's innocuous good-length delivery.
Glimmer of hope
The prospect of triumph seemed bleak from that situation, though Ravindra Jadeja exhibited tremendous composure and ushered India's march forward. The dynamic all-rounder was ably supported by Navdeep Saini, who flexed his muscles and garnered numerous precious boundaries. Jamieson finally terminated Saini's blitz, and Yuzvendra Chahal got run-out as the equation raced out of India's grasp. James Neesham accounted for Jadeja to finish proceedings and sent the raucous crowd into euphoria.
Guptill leads the charge in the first innings
New Zealand's game plan revolved around laying the foundation before unleashing carnage. Openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls traded aggression for caution and progressively found their bearings, helping the Blackcaps' innings gather steam.
At the stroke of the first drinks break, Chahal put down Nicholls of his own bowling, but compensated forthwith, dismissing the southpaw leg before wicket. India could've further dented New Zealand had Virat reviewed the on-field decision when Jadeja's zooter struck Guptill's front pad.
New Zealand wobble
Quick wickets during the middle phase brought India right back into the scheme of things. Tom Blundell hammered one straight down mid-on's throat, while Guptill, after reaching his fifty, erroneously challenged Shardul Thakur's arm. Furthermore, Jadeja intensified India's stranglehold by removing Hamilton's match-winner Tom Latham.
New Zealand desperately required partnerships to sustain, but their lower-order batsmen refused to shoulder responsibility. Trying to pinch a risky single, Neesham was sent packing by Jadeja's underarm throw. Colin de Grandhomme and Mark Chapman too departed without troubling the scorers, and another collapse appeared inevitable.
Experienced campaigner Ross Taylor's dazzling half-century and Jamieson's impactful cameo propelled New Zealand to a respectable target. Ultimately, it was these vital contributions that made the difference between winning and losing for the hosts.
Virat Kohli highlighted, "Two good games, and it's great for the fans. I'm impressed with how we finished. We let things slip away from 197-8 to 270+ in the first half but came back strongly with the second half of our batting. We were in trouble with the bat, but Saini and Jadeja played really well, as did Shreyas. ODIs aren't too relevant this year compared to Tests and T20s, but to find people who can play that way under pressure is a big revelation for us and a big plus. "
Published 08 Feb 2020, 16:22 IST