Ravindra Jadeja scored 66 in 45 balls, and was adjudged Man of the Match © Getty Images
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jan 25, 2014
Corey Anderson is a man possessed in the series as his five-for helped New Zealand come close to beating India, but Ravindra Jadeja had other ideas as he helped India tie the third One-Day International (ODI) at Auckland. Although, he failed with the bat, Anderson contributed with the ball. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja fought hard and scripted a thriller.
If India were searching for a good start, it came today as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma blazed away early on. Rohit was lucky to have a few lives go his way, but then he nonchalantly lofted sixes down the ground a few times. However, one shot that stood out was a pull shot off Hamish Bennett that sailed over the ropes.
Then came the man with the golden arm, Corey Anderson, to bowl the 10th over. India had sped away to 64, but Anderson induced Dhawan to play a pull shot and was brilliantly caught by Martin Guptill at square leg as the ball was dying on him.
Bennett then bowled the spell of the game. The in-form Virat Kohli was kept on strike as he bowled two maidens to him. Kohli only got off the mark at the other end with a four through mid-on. But, Bennett kept the pressure. In the process, Rohit threw his wicket away as he edged an expansive stroke to third-man. Kohli was finally snared by Bennett as he fell to the trap of playing outside the off-stump and got a faint edge through to the wicketkeeper.
It only got worse for India as Ajinkya Rahane got a little tickle to Luke Ronchi down the leg-side. Suresh Raina and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni then started the recovery and went about it smoothly. Dhoni was the more attacking of the two and hit a few big hits, the biggest one coming off Kane Williamson over square-leg.
Raina was pestered with the short stuff and on one occasion, he pulled one to the fine-leg boundary and it fell just short. However, he succumbed to that tendency to pull the half-trackers when Tim Southee bowled a short slower one and Raina got an edge to Ronchi.
Dhoni continued to battle and got to his half-century with a massive six down the ground. The next-ball, he pulled it to Southee in the deep and India’s chase looked over.
Ashwin, who was promoted to No 7 ahead of Jadeja, then unleashed his talent. He picked boundaries easily and pulled the short ones nicely. Even Jadeja got into the attack and smashed a few big ones. They capitalized on the batting powerplays and milked runs off it. As things passed, they had moved to their 50-run stand off only 30 balls.
Ashwin got to his maiden ODI half-century by essaying a reverse-sweep off Nathan McCullum. They had their fair share of luck as Jadeja was dropped by Southee in the deep and Ronchi missed a stumping chance of Ashwin. He smashed McCullum into the third-tier for a six, but was then brilliantly caught by Martin Guptill as he stepped outside the boundary, but managed to throw it back in time and come back to catch it.
Jadeja fought hard with wickets falling at the other end. He took India to the brink in the last over, and smashed it all over the park. With eight needed off two, he smashed a six with two to get off the last ball. Off the last ball, Jadeja could only manage only a single.
Earlier, Guptill’s sparkling 111 took New Zealand to 314. Although New Zealand’s top order setup a good base for an assault, they stuttered a touch before the tail hit out to extend their score.
Indian skipper Dhoni won the toss and chose to field. The only change in the Indian ranks was expected as Varun Aaron came in place of Ishant Sharma. New Zealand made a surprising change as Hamish Bennett replaced the experienced Kyle Mills.
As has been the case, Jesse Ryder began with a flourish and hit a few boundaries. The Indians were caught a bit off-guard with the odd shape of the playing area as quite a few boundaries went square. Ryder was threatening, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar snapped him with that incoming delivery that has troubled him in this series.
In came the in-form Kane Williamson and along with Guptill, he built a solid platform. Aaron was brought into bowl inside the mandatory powerplay and worked some pace. However, once the spinners, Ashwin and Jadeja came into play, the scoring rate slowed down considerably.
It was during that phase that both batsmen worked it around and farmed the strike. They gradually built the innings as India applied the pressure on them and did not let them score easily.
However, Guptill sped away after getting to his half century and Williamson continued to bat stably. The track posed no problems as such, although there was some early bounce and carry to the wicket-keeper; some of the deliveries climbed and were given wides.
As New Zealand approached the batting powerplay, Williamson was bowled by Mohammed Shami. The 150 of the partnership had just been completed and New Zealand looked good for a lot more in the overs to come. Corey Anderson was given a promotion and he announced himself with a six over long-on. However, Ashwin fired it in and Anderson was bowled for eight.
New Zealand then slid a touch as Brendon McCullum recorded his second consecutive duck as he cut Aaron straight to point. Ross Taylor was run-out.
Meanwhile, Luke Ronchi smashed a quickfire 38 with three huge hits. It was that burst that has helped New Zealand to their eventual score.
Towards the end, India bowled quite a few tight overs, but the tailenders stretched it above 300. Southee’s late assault helped them after a few nervous moments.
New Zealand 314 in 50 overs (Martin Guptill 111, Kane WIlliamson 65, Mohammed Shami 2 for 84) tied with India 314 for 9 in 50 overs (MS Dhoni 50, Ravichandran Ashwin 64, Ravindra Jadeja 66*; Corey Anderson 5 for 63).
Man of the Match: Ravindra Jadeja