New Zealand have leveled the series by 1-1    AFP
New Zealand have leveled the series by 1-1 AFP

New Zealand, after a series of losses in the entire tour, finally gained some momentum in the second One-Day International (ODI) at Delhi. They won a low-scoring contest at the capital city by a whisker and after four losses they have finally managed to register their first victory on this tour. New Zealand defended a low-scoring total on a surface, which was conducive for batting. The star-studded Indian batting line up stumbled like nine pins, which handed New Zealand a much-needed victory. Though, the visitors have squared the five-match series and have a win under their belt, they need to pull-up as the win at Delhi was more of India s batting malfunction more than New Zealand s impactful bowling. Full Cricket Scorecard, India vs New Zealand, 2nd ODI

Despite the fact that India were not playing some of their established bowlers, their second string of bowlers inspired enough confidence as New Zealand batting has taken a beating in the first two games. Coming back to Delhi, New Zealand bowlers did not have enough runs on the board and they also played a bowler less in order to strengthen their batting, but the move hardly paid off. On paper, the New Zealand side looks stronger than the Indian line-up but have failed to click, especially their batting. They have some dominant players who can turn the game on its head but the likes of Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi and Mitchell Santner have been wanting.

Let s introspect the game closely, which India lost by a whisker at Delhi. First and foremost, with the kind of batting India had, New Zealand without a doubt need a total of 300 plus in every game to defend. The kind of bowling New Zealand picked for the second game ideally would not be enough to restrict the Indian line-up. The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni are masters in chasing and a total of 243 at Delhi with smaller boundaries would certainly not have proved helpful for New Zealand in defending.

Once again, New Zealand lost the toss and had to bat first. They needed a solid start and more importantly Guptill to fire, but it was not to be as the maverick right-hander was undone by Umesh Yadav. He played down the wrong line and missed the ball by a massive margin, which pretty much spoke about his form. Tom Latham and Kane Williamson did well to weather the early storm and sailed the Kiwi ship out of troubled waters. They looked good and with them in command, New Zealand could have dreamt of a total over 300 but Kedar Jadhav got rid of Latham with his golden arm.

After Latham s fall, some partnership developed between Taylor and Williamson but the former once again floundered at a crucial juncture, a factor which has been haunting New Zealand massively. Since then, New Zealand kept losing wickets at regular intervals and never managed to get the momentum back. Barring Williamson s century and Latham s valiant knock, none of the Kiwi batsmen managed to make any kind of impact. They were playing an extra batsman, a bold move, but it failed big time. Somehow, they managed to put a fighting total of 242 runs on board.

The target was hardly challenging and needed at least three top-order batsmen inside the pavilion inside 100 runs landmark for New Zealand to put India under any kind of pressure. They did so, in fact, they did well. India were four men down for 73, but their bowling was responsible for most of the scalps. Rohit looked good after that massive six and cover drive to Matt Henry on consecutive deliveries but got a beauty from Trent Boult, which was too hot for him to handle. They drew the first blood but Rahane was there at the other end when an on song and reliable Kohli joined him. He was the key to India s success and New Zealand needed to get rid of him early as he has an uncanny knack of making his chances count. A loose delivery from Mitchell Santner, which was going down the leg for a wide managed to get a faint edge off Kohli s willow, which was brilliantly taken by Ronchi behind the stumps. Kohli was unlucky to have been dismissed in this manner as he would execute the similar shot with perfection almost 95 percent of the times. The spine was broken, but India had enough depth in their artillery to gun down 243 on that surface.

Rahane did not have luck going his way when he pulled a short one from Tim Southee safely into the hands of Corey Anderson at deep square-leg. The decision was reviewed to the third umpire but the soft decision was out. The replay was very dicey and would have concluded the ball to have bumped ahead of Anderson before he cupped it. Since the soft decision was out, Rahane was deprived the benefit of doubt. Controversial though but India lost a wicket and Rahane had to walk back to the pavilion. India were in deep trouble and to add to their woes, a good looking Manish Pandey threw his wicket away in a bid for snatching an extra run but Ronchi was quick with his glove work. At the score of 73, India were four down, which was no less than a wish for the Kiwis.

Jadhav and Dhoni threatened to take the game away from New Zealand and were garnering some crucial runs but the former lost his wicket just when things were pulling back for India. Dhoni is a proven finisher in this format and already spent enough time to unleash his barrage of aggressive strokes. But Southee did something extra-ordinary to remove Dhoni and the game was almost lost for India. India still had some hopes left with Hardik Pandya and Akshar Patel, who have a reputation of scoring big runs. Akshar foundered but Pandya responded to the occasion. He complimented well with Umesh Yadav and almost carried India over the line. They accounted for 45 runs between them but Pandya fell prey Boult s persistence just before the finishing line. After which Jasprit Bumrah was done and dusted by Southee.

In spite of losing the top-order cheaply, Indian middle and lower-order did reasonably well and almost snatched another win for India but New Zealand s strike bowlers did a good job and denied them from doing so. Anderson did not put in the hard yards at Delhi probably due to injury, which meant the part-timer Anton Devcich had to bowl his quota of 10 overs. They did not have any option and backed their batting to post a huge target. With the games being squared between the two, India will give it all to win and one can expect them to come out hard in the next game. If New Zealand are eyeing to end this tour on a high, their batting has to step up and put runs on the board to give their bowlers a battling chance and test India s glitzy batting. It would not be wrong in saying, that New Zealand were fortunate enough to register a win under their belt, but this could well be a false alarm if they do not step up.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)