What a performance from the little master, 163 from 133 balls was a phenomenal effort. Considering that people were gunning for his throat in the One day format, this was a special performance. Sachin answered his critics through his willow rather than on papers. That’s something which separates this great player from the others. His humility and his ability to keep his feet firmly on the ground have made him the great player that he is.
Coming back to the game itself, it was a batting paradise at christchurch and it seemed at the end that no score was safe. India would be really happy that in the end they got enough to win the game. In the absence of Daniel Vettori, Mccullum won the toss and invited India to bat, a decision which he would have regretted. India started with Sehwag and Tendulkar. Sehwag played an atrocious stroke to get bowled for 3 which brought in Gautam Ghambir to join Sachin in the middle.
Sachin Tendulkar though launched a brilliant counterattack after Sehwag’s exit which kept the Kiwis on the back foot. When things were going smoothly for the visitors Ghambir decided to run the ball to third man only to guide it into the hands of Andrew Mcglashan to leave India 2 down. Yuvraj then walked in to join the little master and what followed in the next 10-15 overs was an absolute carnage and something which the Kiwis did not have answer to.
The ground was too small for Yuvraj as he dealt mostly in boundaries during his knock of 87. Sachin and Yuvraj just hammered the New Zealand bowlers to submission. When Yuvraj was finally out for 87 India were already past 200. It was an ideal platform for Dhoni and the rest of the batting order. Dhoni had a lucky reprieve when Andrew Mcglashan missed an easy stumping of the bowling of Patel. Dhoni and Sachin continued the hitting and by the time Sachin retired due to injury for 163 India were already past 330 with 5 overs to go.
Suresh Raina then joined the Indian captain in the middle and helped India to reach 392/4 in 50 overs. This was the highest ever ODI score in NZ and the second highest for India.
The Indian bowlers though did not find the short boundaries to their liking. The New Zealand opening combination of Jesse Ryder and Brendon Mccullum got off to a flier scoring at almost 8 runs/over. The fielders also did not help India’s cause as they grassed two simple chances offered by both the openers. The first wicket fell at last with the New Zealand score on 165 when Brendon Mccullum was run out by Raina/Dhoni combination.
New Zealand though lost their way after that wicket in spite of Ryder’s brilliant hundred to lose 6 wickets for 50 odd runs. India though were unable to get rid of a tail who lead by Kyle Mills launched a brilliant fight back which put enormous pressure on the Indians. The Indian bowlers did not handle the situation well and Munaf was terribly disappointing. Dhoni looked visibly upset at the way Munaf was going about his bowling. The umpire finally ended Munaf’s misery when he took him off for bowling two over the waist deliveries in the same over.
India finally bowled the hosts out for 334, 58 runs short of the target. Even though the final score line suggests a comfortable win for India, Dhoni will not be happy with the way his team bowled and fielded. The game could have been much shorter if the Indians had hung on to the catches offered by the openers earlier in the innings. India would like to iron out the flaws before the next game and would hope to wrap up the series 3-0.