SK Turning Point: When Jimmy Neesham removed Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni in quick succession during the chase
It is often said that cricket is a team game and it is the contribution of most, if not the entire unit, that is key for success. However, in this Indian team, that sentence may not hold true, especially when it comes to chasing down targets.
The fulcrum of this team while pursuing a score is its Number 3 – Virat Kohli. The 27-year-old right-hander seems to possess a different mindset to the rest of the side when it comes to chasing a total and has often been the man around the whom the rest revolve.
On Sunday, he showed his level of prowess in tracking down a target, when he made an unbeaten 154 in a chase of 286, which helped the hosts take a 2-1 lead in the five-match ODI series.
On Thursday, with India needing 261 to seal the series in Ranchi, the onus was once again on Kohli to lead India to a win. But he failed to carry on from where he had left off in Mohali, falling for 45.
MS Dhoni walked in join Ajinkya Rahane and the duo began to build a stand, which was needed at that stage. They had put 40 for the third wicket, when in the 28th over of the innings, Jimmy Neesham bowled a wicket-to-wicket delivery and Rahane went too much across his stumps and was caught right in front.
The right-hander had reached his fifty only a few overs earlier and had a chance to cash in and get a big score, but could no do so.
With Kohli gone, the impetus was now on Dhoni to take India home, but in the 30th over, it was once again Neesham, who did the damage, getting one to go through the skipper’s defense and knocking his leg stump off the ground.
It was a vital blow for both sides since India, from there on, had to depend on an inexperienced middle-order to win them the game, while New Zealand realised that they suddenly held all the aces.
The lower-order, barring Axar Patel, could not forge together the stands that were needed at that stage, and India eventually succumbed to a 19-run loss at Ranchi.
The action now shifts to Vizag, where the fifth and deciding ODI in the series will be played.