It was annihilation once again at the Eden Park, Auckland – even if it wasn’t the same degree as Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar handed out to the Kiwis earlier in the series.
Having already lost the series in the first four matches, the Kiwis playing for pride in the fifth one-day international, put in a much better performance by dismissing the Indians for a paltry 149, and then breezed past the target in under 24 overs to register a emphatic (face-saving) eight-wicket win.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat first, despite rain having delayed the start of the match, the conditions being overcast and with the threat of rain intervening still hanging in the air.
Sehwag played in his usual fashion – taking to the bowlers at every given opportunity, while his opening partner Gautam Gambhir struggled to get his timing right.
The Kiwi bowlers got the ball to do a few tricks off the pitch – the bowlers beat the bat nine times in the first five overs and Sehwag was almost split to two halves by an Iain O’Brien delivery on one occasion. Gambhir was caught behind for 5 attempting to run the ball down to thirdman – a mode of dismissal which one has seen so often in the limited overs matches on this tour.
Sehwag, despite getting off the mark with a six, was kept quiet by O’Brien; he broke the shackles when he scored a boundary in the fourth over and followed it up with a six in the fifth over.
The loss of Gambhir didn’t seem to disturb him as he went about punishing the Kiwi bowlers – he lost the company of Suresh Raina (promoted to bat at number three) in the tenth over; Raina, attempting to pull Jacob Oram, only managed a top edge which was spectacularly caught by Scott Styris at mid on.
Rohit Sharma walked out to bat at number four, and having had very little opportunity in match conditions on this tour, the Mumbai lad struggled to get the ball off the square. He struggled to rotate the strike and this had an adverse impact on Sehwag who was cruising in fifth gear.
The Delhi dasher, having raced to 40 from 27 balls (3 x 4, 3 x 6), deprived of strike for quite a while, was dismissed in the twelfth over when, in an attempt to break the shackles, he charged down the track and attempted to hit Oram over point, but only miscued it and was caught by Brendon McCullum. That was the opening that the Kiwis needed, and they tightened up the run scoring opportunities.
Oram combined brilliantly with Jesse Ryder, and the two slow-medium bowlers used the conditions well, stuck to a wicket-to-wicket line and checked the flow of runs. From 71 for 3 at the end of 13 overs, India crawled to 88 for 4 after 19 overs – 17 runs had come in six overs, with Ryder accounting for the wicket of Yuvraj Singh (edged an attempted square drive and was caught behind for 11).
Daniel Vettori brought himself on for one over, and promptly took himself off after being hit for a six. Normal service resumed as Oram and Ryder were once again back into the attack; the ensuing nine overs saw the two allrounders concede 26 runs and pick up three wickets – that of MS Dhoni (bowled Ryder for 9), Yusuf Pathan (bowled Ryder for
nought) and Harbhajan Singh (run out for 1 after a mix-up with Rohit Sharma).
New Zealand’s Jacob Oram runs out India’s Harbhajan Singh © AFPIt was rather surprising to see the likes of Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan bat ahead of Praveen Kumar, who has a batting average of
22 in domestic limited overs cricket, more so when there was an established batsman batting out in the middle.
Another run out – that of Zaheer Khan (5 from 16 balls), saw India slump further to 131 for 8 and the writing was on the wall. Kumar was dismissed for 6 (caught behind off O’Brien) and last man Ishant Sharma was out top edging a pull off the same bowler for 3.
India, after winning the toss and opting to take first strike, were shot out for 149 with 6.3 overs remaining in their allotted 43 overs. Rohit Sharma, who came in for severe criticism by television commentators for his inability to get the ball off the square and rotate the strike more often than he did, remained unbeaten on 43 from 74 balls.
For the Kiwis, the two allrounders were the pick of the bowlers; Ryder finished his nine overs with figures of 3/29, while Oram finished his quota of overs with figures of 2/22. O’Brien was the most expensive of the lot, leaking 43 runs from 7.3 overs while returning with the wickets of Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma, while Mills finished with figures of 1/27 from his seven overs and captain Vettori went wicketless from his four overs.
Set a target of 150 from 43 overs, the Kiwis got off to a poor start; McCullum threw his wicket away in the third over attempting a reckless stroke. The wicketkeeper-batsman came down the track and attempted to send the ball crashing through covers, but on this occasion he made no contact with the ball and had his stumps rattled.
That did not discourage his opening partner to change his plans though; Ryder sent the Indians on a leather hunt as he slammed the Indian fast bowling trio to all parts of the ground; he cut and pulled fiercely and targeted the short midwicket boundary.
Ishant Sharma particularly came in for some heavy punishment; Ryder hit him for 32 runs off 18 balls (including three boundaries and three sixes) which prompted a few exchanges of words in the middle.
New Zealand, thanks to Ryder’s blitzkrieg, had raced 93 in less than 14.2 overs, when Ryder, after the exchange of words with Ishant, attempted to play the ball through the off side with little or no footwork, but only managed to drag the ball back onto his stumps.
Martin Guptill, who was almost spectator in the partnership with Ryder, then stepped up the gas as he then got stuck into the Indian bowlers. Guptill, who had 27 from 33 balls when Ryder was dismissed, then raced to 50 off 49 balls; he reached the landmark with a on-driven six off the bowling of Ishant and then followed that up with a cracking boundary backward of square to finish the match off in style.
Unbeaten at the other end was Ross Taylor, who himself scored a elegant 28 (33 balls, with the help of four boundaries and a six).
For India, the three seamers had a disappointing night, while Harbhajan Singh (0/15) only had the opportunity to bowl four overs.
New Zealand: Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Grant Elliott, Jacob Oram, Peter McGlashan (wicketkeeper), Daniel Vettori (captain), Kyle Mills, Iain OBrien.
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (captain) (wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Umpires: Gary Baxter (NZ), Rudi Koertzen (RSA) and Evan Watkin (NZ)
Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SL)