Many heroes emerge in a gut-wrenching duel of fortune swings; Jadeja almost takes the visitors through

The game at the Eden Park here on Saturday had just about everything; dominance, slumps, drama, fightbacks and moments of inspiration.

And heroes emerged in this gut-wrenching duel of fortune swings where both teams finished on 314 on a wicket with pace and consistent b bounce.

Martin Guptill made a stroke-filled hundred for New Zealand, Corey Anderson found himself among big wickets, and then Mahendra Singh Dhoni, R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja led a stirring Indian counter-attack with aggressive half-centuries.

The air was suffused with tension as the final over began. When the dust settled, the third ODI had concluded in a sensational tie.

Innings of character

The explosive Jadeja almost pulled off the impossible with an unbeaten 66 of character. As the night wore on, tensions rose in the Kiwi camp. There was a close caught behind shout against Jadeja, that might have been a genuine edge.

When Anderson began the final over, India required 18 with just one wicket left.

The influential Anderson had scalped five by mixing his length capably. His mind calm in the cauldron, Jadeja settled into his stance. The crowd turned silent in anticipation of the face-off.

Anderson, finally undone by some pressure, sent down two wides in the over. The inspired Jadeja powered the Kiwi to the mid-wicket fence, turned one fine for a boundary, and thwacked a short delivery over the ropes. The Indians supporters roared.

India needed two off the last delivery. Jadeja and last man Varun Aaron scampered a single.

New Zealand leads the series 2-0 with two games remaining. Staring at a defeat for most part, even a tie was a heist for India.

The game’s defining moment arrived in the 49th over. Jadeja — he had clubbed Mitchell McClenaghan for a six over mid-wicket — was put down at third man fence by Hamish Bennett.

The dependable Kiwis made a few errors under stress. ‘Keeper Luke Ronchi fluffed a stumping to reprieve Ashwin.

Promoted in the batting order, Ashwin (65) stroked with authority and common sense. He utilised the angles in the field cleverly, gliding and glancing fine.

Judicious play

Dhoni (50) kept India in the fight with Suresh Raina. The skipper blended big hits with some judicious play.

Dhoni fell to a fine catch at deep square leg when he pulled Anderson. And Ashwin was taken near the line by Guptill at mid-wicket off Nathan McCullum.

India’s comeback here, though, should not mask a shoddy display by its pacemen and the inability of its frontline batsmen to convert starts.

The side was off to a hectic beginning on the chase. Rohit Sharma — reprieved on no score at second slip by Jesse Ryder off Tim Southee — and Shikhar Dhawan sizzled with big drives.

The openers put on 64 in only 9.2 overs when Dhawan departed, pulling Anderson into a diving Guptill’s hands.

Not much later, Rohit edged Anderson down third-man’s throat. Soon, Virat Kohli nicked a delivery with a hint of away movement and bounce to the ‘keeper off the gangling Bennett.

Earlier, the Indian seamers disappointed after Dhoni elected to field. On a surface with carry, the pacemen had to operate to a three-quarters length close to the body on the off-stump and use the short-pitched ball and the yorker cleverly.

Guptill shines

Guptill was not complaining. His front-footed cover-drive off Varun Aaron streaked through the outfield. Guptill’s back-footed punches and drives pierced the field.

Guptill jumped out to loft Jadeja over covers, his feet and mind working in cohesion. His straight six off Shami was all about timing.

Williamson, composed and classy, drove and whipped. The 153-run second-wicket stand between Guptill and Williamson built a platform for the Kiwis.

Anderson was promoted to carry out the demolition job. Ashwin, however, finally broke his wicketless spell.

The off-spinner rightly switched to round the wicket and surprised the left-handed Anderson with a quicker one.

To their credit, Ashwin and Jadeja restricted the flow of runs on a pitch not conducive to their bowling by operating wicket-to-wicket.

The Kiwis lost a spate of wickets after Guptill’s departure in a mad rush for runs. It was here that wicket-keeper batsman Luke Ronchi innovated for a rapid 20-ball 38. Then, Southee struck some lusty blows.

Scoreboard

New Zealand: M. Guptill c Rahane b Jadeja 111 (129b, 12x4, 2x6), J. Ryder b B. Kumar 20 (12b, 4x4), K. Williamson b Shami 65 (74b, 4x4, 1x6), C. Anderson b Ashwin 8 (5b, 1x6), R. Taylor (run out) 17 (18b, 2x4), B. McCullum c Ashwin b Aaron 0 (3b), L. Ronchi c Rahane b Jadeja 38 (20b, 3x4, 3x6), N. McCullum (run out) 1 (3b), T. Southee (run out) 27 (23b, 1x4, 3x6), M. McClenaghan c Jadeja b Shami 3 (6b), H. Bennett (not out) 3 (7b); Extras (lb-10, w-11): 21; Total (in 50 overs): 314.

Fall of wickets: 1-36 (Ryder), 2-189 (Williamson), 3-198 (Anderson), 4-224 (Guptill), 5-230 (B. McCullum), 6-270 (Taylor), 7-280 (N. McCullum), 8-280 (Ronchi), 9-288 (McClenaghan).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9-0-48-1, Mohammad Shami 10-0-84-2, Varun Aaron 7-0-52-1, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-47-2, R. Ashwin 10-0-47-1, Suresh Raina 4-0-26-0.

India: S. Dhawan c Guptill b Anderson 28 (25b, 4x4, 1x6), Rohit c Bennett b Anderson 39 (38b, 1x4, 4x6), V. Kohli c Ronchi b Bennett 6 (20b, 1x4), A. Rahane c Ronchi b Anderson 3 (14b), S. Raina c Ronchi b Southee 31 (39b, 3x4), M.S. Dhoni c Southee b Anderson 50 (60b, 2x4, 3x6), R. Ashwin c Guptill b N. McCullum 65 (46b, 8x4, 1x6), R. Jadeja (not out) 66 (45b, 5x4, 4x6), Bhuvneshwar c N. McCullum b Bennett 4 (3b, 1x4), M. Shami c Williamson b Anderson 2 (7b), V. Aaron (not out) 2 (3b); Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-14): 18; Total (for nine wkts in 50 overs): 314.

Fall of wickets: 1-64 (Dhawan), 2-72 (Rohit), 3-74 (Kohli), 4-79 (Rahane), 5-146 (Raina), 6-184 (Dhoni), 7-269 (Ashwin), 8-275 (Bhuvneshwar), 9-286 (Shami).

New Zealand bowling: Tim Southee10-0-74-1, Mitchell McClenaghan 10-0-76-0, Hamish Bennett 10-2-41-2, Corey Anderson 10-1-63-5, Kane Williamson 2-0-17-0, Nathan McCullum 8-0-39-1.

Man-of-the-Match: Ravindra Jadeja.

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