SPORT

McMillan keeps New Zealand in the hunt

New Zealand's Scott Styris snaps up Indian opener V.V.S. Laxman off his own bowling in the TVS Cup match at Cuttack on Thursday.  

CUTTACK NOV. 6. New Zealand produced a remarkable four-wicket victory over India to stay in the hunt in the TVS Cup tri-series at the Barabati Stadium here on Thursday.

Set to chase 247, New Zealand accomplished the task with a methodical display in the day-night match. New Zealand reached 249 for six in 47.3 overs.

An excellent innings by Craig McMillan was the cornerstone on which New Zealand's creditable victory was based.

The burly batsman, who was declared the Man of the Match, showed steel like nerves and ice cool temperament at a crucial juncture to guide his team to victory and throw the race for the second qualifier's berth wide open. Both India and New Zealand have nine points after equal number of matches.

It was a remarkable fight back by the Kiwis after losing four early wickets. Scott Styris and McMillan not only stemmed the rot but also paced the innings well to put on 128 runs for the fifth wicket.

Their stand put New Zealand on the road to victory.

Styris, having grabbed three valuable Indian wickets with his steady bowling, showed his class with the bat as well in producing a well compiled 68.

McMillan too was outstanding with his stroke play.

A brilliant piece of fielding by Mohammad Kaif at short mid-wicket ensured the run out of Jacob Oram to bring back the pressure on the Kiwis. But McMillan and wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum ensured their team's triumph.

India won the toss and made first use of the pitch. The wicket proved to be slow in speed and low in bounce forcing the batsmen to depend on drives, glides and nudges.

Just when it seemed that the two Indian openers, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman, had settled down and were looking good for a big stand, umpire A.V. Jayaprakash ruled Tendulkar leg before to a ball that pitched and moved appreciably towards the leg-side.

That decision was a big blow for India but No. 3 Mohammad Kaif, despite losing Laxman early, steadied the rocking Indian boat with support from Rahul Dravid. The third wicket association produced 59 runs before left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori delivered a double blow removing Dravid and Yuvraj Singh in the space of three balls.

Dravid failed in his attempt to speed up the run rate. His heave off Vettori ended in the hands of Styris at mid-wicket and Yuvraj, the next man in, played an unpardonable lofted shot without gauging the pace and bounce to be taken by Mills.

Kaif played some excellent shots and reached his sixth half-century in 81 balls.

Short on confidence and under pressure to perform, this 22-year-old came good to guide the Indian innings to a position of solidity.

The best phase of the innings was when Kaif and Hemang Badani joined forces. The right and left hand combination flourished before Kaif dragged a Styris ball onto his stumps to give the medium pacer his second wicket.

Thereafter Badani took charge grabbing the opportunity with both hands to reiterate his ability and seal his place in the crucial No. 6 position.

His 41 helped India ease past the 200 mark. An inspired second spell of 4-0-15-3 by Daryl Tuffey brought about a collapse as Badani, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh went quickly.

Zaheer Khan used the long handle effectively to boost the Indian total. In the 50th over, bowled by Jacob Oram, Khan took 20 runs with two 6s and a four in the last three balls.

Earlier, India made three changes from the team that last played against Australia at Mumbai. Kumble was replaced by Mumbai leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule while Hemang Badani came in place of the injured Virendra Sehwag.

With the team deciding to induct left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, young wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel passed on the gloves to skipper Dravid.

New Zealand decided to give Kyle Mills his first game in this tri-series leaving Ian Butler to carry the drinks.

The Indians wore black bands in respect of the departed soul of former Test player Subrato Guha, who died in Mumbai on Wednesday.

INDIA
V.V.S. Laxman
c & b Styris31
(47b, 4x4)
S. Tendulkar lbw b Mills 14
(14b, 3x4)
M. Kaif b Styris64
(108b, 5x4)
R. Dravid c Styris
b Vettori31
(46b, 2x4)
Yuvraj Singh c Mills
b Vettori0
(3b)
H. Badani c McCullum
b Tuffey41
(45b, 4x4)
S. Bahutule lbw b Styris11
(13b, 1x4)
A. Agarkar c McMillan
b Tuffey7
(8b, 1x4)
Harbhajan Singh b Tuffey5
(7b)
Zaheer (not out)33
(13b, 3x4, 2x6)
M. Kartik (not out)1
(2b)
Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-2)8
Total (for nine wickets
in 50 overs)246
Fall of wickets: 1-27 (Tendulkar), 2-77 (Laxman), 3-136 (Dravid), 4-136 (Yuvraj), 5-169 (Kaif), 6-194 (Bahutule), 7-206 (Badani), 8-207 (Agarkar), 9-224 (Harbhajan). New Zealand bowling: Tuffey 10-1-31-3, Mills 8-0-51-1 (w-1), Oram 10-0-68-0 (w-1), Styris 10-0-38-3, Vettori 10-0-39-2, Harris 2-0-13-0.
NEW ZEALAND
C. Nevin c Yuvraj
b Harbhajan29
(35b, 3x4)
S. Fleming lbw b Agarkar 24
(14b, 5x4)
C. Harris lbw b Zaheer0
(4b)
L. Vincent lbw b Zaheer
(10b)1
S. Styris lbw b Kartik68
(89b, 5x4)
C. McMillan (not out)82
(92b, 6x4, 1x6)
J. Oram (run out)6
(16b, 1x4)
B. McCullum (not out)19
(17b, 4x4)
Extras (b-1, lb-6, w-12, nb-1)20
Total (for six wickets
in 47.3 overs)249
Fall of wickets: 1-39 (Fleming), 2-40 (Harris), 3-44 (Vincent), 4-68 (Nevin), 5-195 (Styris), 6-214 (Oram). India bowling: Zaheer 9-1-49-2 (w-1), Agarkar 8-0-41-1 (w-3), Harbhajan 10-0-41-1 (w-8), Kartik 10-1-34-1, Tendulkar 3-0-25-0 (w-1), Bahutule 3-0-24-0 (nb-1), Badani 3.3-0-21-0, Yuvraj 1-0-7-0.