Kiwis score 80 in their last five overs
Johannesburg: As India vs Pakistan testified, there’s enough time in compact cricket for periodic shifts in balance. Not quite the subtle seamless shift that one sees in a Test, the tilt here happens in a flash of recklessness or brilliance.
India’s super-eight match against New Zealand, where it lost by 10 runs after at one point being comfortably placed in its chase, was an advertisement for that.
Both teams were in trouble, and repeatedly came out of it. New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori was exceptional in flight, variation and control, combining all three in his four overs to stifle the Indian scoring.
He made the difference in the match.
Free and forceful
Chasing 191 for a win, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were more lubricated in their stroke-making and played with a lot more ease than against Pakistan.
The Indian openers were free and forceful, but succumbed to misjudgement. Gambhir was done in by a counter-attacking slow one from Vettori, while Sehwag found the wrong part of his blade while playing across an Oram delivery.
Once Dhoni’s thrilling minutes of unorthodoxy ended after a mix-up with Karthik, the match looked like it had swung the winners’ way.
Earlier, New Zealand was in some trouble at 91 for five after Dhoni chose to field. Dinesh Karthik slid his fingers below the ball in time to send Lou Vincent back in R.P. Singh’s first over.
Harbhajan was too quick for Fulton to establish any contact and was trapped plumb.
McCullum was spiteful towards the loose balls, despatching any offering that erred in length. He drove and cut particularly well till he fell to Harbhajan in a slog attempt.
Taylor fell to a shadow-sweep that made way for a quick one from Yuvraj to strike his pads.
Craig McMillan played a madcap innings, almost pulling a Dimitri Mascarenhas on Yuvraj Singh in the 16th over, with a massive six over fine-leg. The Kiwis had reached a competitive total.
As was the case against Pakistan, India gave away too many runs at the death. What the team needs, is some calm and control in its end overs.
Indian captain M.S. Dhoni admitted that it was a problem. “Death bowling has been a area of concern, both in England and here. (Considering) the start we got, we should have won. We made the same mistakes that we did in the first game.
“We kept losing wickets. I had to play a kind of game that doesn’t come naturally to me. Somebody had to be there throughout the innings around whom the others could have played. Definitely have to work on both those areas,” he said.
“It is very important to bowl well at the death, especially in Twenty20. If you look at New Zealand, they made almost 80 in the last five overs. It becomes very crucial. Of course, to not lose wickets, and that too at regular intervals, is extremely vital.
Play yourself in
“If the wicket is slow, you have to set yourself up. Play yourself in. If you look at the Kiwi batsmen too, from the start, they play a few balls to get in before going after the bowling,” he added.
He also said that failing to capitalise on the start was another reason for the loss. “The way we started it was amazing. If we had capitalised on that, we would have won the game.
“They had to bowl bowlers who were not really great at the death. But what happened was that we kept losing wickets regularly. I got run out, it was unfortunate. If DK (Karthik) and I had been around till the end, never know what might have happened,” he concluded.
ScoreboardNew Zealand: L. Vincent c Karthik b R.P. Singh 3, M. McCullum c Gambhir b Harbhajan 45, P.G. Fulton lbw b Harbhajan 21, R. Taylor lbw b Yuvraj 11, S. Styris (run out) 2, C. McMillan (run out) 44, J. Oram c R.P. Singh b Sreesanth 35, D. Vettori b R.P. Singh 15, S. Bond (run out) 4, M. Gillespie (not out) 0, J. Patel (run out) 0; Extras; (lb-6, w-4) 10; Total: (in 20 overs) 190.
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-69, 3-86, 4-89, 5-91, 6-164, 7-185, 8-189, 9-190.
India bowling: Sreesanth 3-0-37-1, R.P. Singh 4-0-29-2, Agarkar 4-0-40-0, Pathan 2-0-16-0, Harbhajan 4-0-24-2, Yuvraj Singh 3-0-38-1.
India: G. Gambhir c McCullum b Vettori 51, V. Sehwag c Styris b Oram 40, R. Uthappa c & b Vettori 0, M.S. Dhoni (run out) 24, Yuvraj c Taylor b Patel 5, D. Karthik c Bond b Vettori 17, I. Pathan b Vettori 11.
A. Agarkar (run out) 1, Harbhajan c Vettori b Bond 7, Sreesanth (not out) 19, R.P. Singh (not out) 1; Extras: (lb-2, w-2) 4; Total: (9 wkts, 20 overs) 180.
Fall of wickets: 1-76, 2-77, 3-104, 4-116, 5-128, 6-146, 7-151, 8-152, 9-153.
New Zealand bowling: Bond 4-0-39-1, Gillespie 4-0-42-0, Patel 3-0-38-1, Oram 2-0-14-1, Vettori 4-0-20-4, Styris 3-0-25-0.