All-round India draw level

With the Kiwis 1-0 up in the series, and just 2 matches to go, Team India had no choice but to pull up their socks and put in a powerful performance. They met the need of the hour and drew level in the series with a commanding victory over the Kiwis in Pune. India’s bowling, fielding & batting fell in place in the second ODI, and have set up a decider in Kanpur.

This time around the Kiwis won the toss and decided to bat on a hard-looking track. The decision didn’t quite go their way in the end, as they were in for a troublesome start to their innings. Kohli opted to make one change in India’s line-up. Kuldeep, who struggled in the first ODI, was replaced by Axar Patel. The Kiwis looked to start the innings positively once again. However, In the third over itself, Martin Guptill who doesn’t boast a decent record in India, fell prey to Bhuvneshwar’s smart bowling. Guptill prodded at the ball and edged it to Dhoni, who took a smart catch, low down to his right.

Kiwi skipper, Kane Williamson would have walked out to bat hoping to get some runs under his belt. His poor run continued, as Bumrah trapped him, and the umpire was in agreement. Williamson decided to give the review a shot. The ball though, was clipping the leg stump, and the umpire’s decision was upheld. Williamson had another failure next to his name. In the following over, Bhuvi claimed his second wicket, giving India a third. Munro was foxed by a smart slower one, and the move to get him to open continued to look listless.

The duo that scored 200 runs between them in the first ODI were re-united at the crease with the Kiwi top order failing to fire. For a short while, it seemed like they were about to bail the Kiwis out of trouble once again. Their shots looked crisp and the confidence seemed high as well. The relief was short-lived, as Hardik Pandya broke the promising stand with his soon-becoming-a-signature delivery, the short one. He directed a good bouncer towards Taylor, who took the bait and went for the hook, only to feather it to Dhoni.

Nicholls and Latham stitched a seemingly solid partnership, and steered the Kiwis beyond the 100-run mark through the middle overs. They picked up the singles, twos and the occasional boundary, but the Indian spinners never really let the game slip away. Axar Patel, who made his way into the playing XI today, accounted for Latham’s wicket. The southpaw went for the shot that yielded so many runs against the Indian spinners In Mumbai – the sweep. This time around, he couldn’t connect, and the ball found the stumps. India were jubilant after picking up the in-form batsman’s wicket.

Henry Nicholls had got his eye in and looked good for a meaty score. He was timing the ball pretty well, and Colin de Grandhomme got into his stride soon. The pair dished out some punishment to the Indian spinners, finding the boundary more regularly than the other Kiwi batsmen could. The handy stand came to an end when Bhuvneshwar bowled a beauty to send Nicholls and his leg stump off firm footing. A lovely in-dipper from wide of the crease, broke through the gates and sent the leg stump rolling and tumbling towards Dhoni. New Zealand lost another wicket just when a partnership was blossoming.

As the death overs approached, the Indian bowlers tightened the screws and began to give very little away to the Kiwi lower order. Grandhomme lost his touch, while Mitchell Santner hit a couple of useful shots to keep the innings going. Chahal’s heroics in the 44th over ended a lot of the Kiwis’ hopes of getting close to 250. He induced a false shot off the well-set Grandhomme who edged the ball to Bumrah, ending his innings on 41. On the next delivery, Chahal beat Milne who got hit on his pads. The Indians’ appeal was turned down, but they opted for the review. There was no inside edge and the ball was going on to hit middle stump. From 6 down, the Blackcaps were suddenly eight down.

Tim Southee came to their rescue in the final five overs, as Bhuvneshwar & Bumrah bowled to their strengths. After hitting a few lusty blows, Southee’s cameo helped the Kiwis to 230/9 in the 50 overs. The Indian bowlers stuck to a plan and executed it to perfection. 231 didn’t appear to be a tough target by any means on the Pune surface, and India may have fancied their chances at the half-way mark itself.

The Indian openers got off to a cautious start. Shikhar Dhawan took a brief period to get his eye in, and started playing his shots. Rohit, on the other hand picked up just one boundary off a short delivery, and left a few balls alone. He eventually lost his wicket to what would usually be classified as a loose delivery. He flicked a Southee freebie on the pads straight to the fielder at mid-wicket.

The senior boys from Delhi, captain Kohli & Dhawan didn’t seem too hassled with the Kiwi quicks after Rohit’s wicket. They picked up boundaries regularly, hit a six each, and India had notched up 64 runs in the first 10 overs. The chase appeared to be vested in safe hands. New Zealand managed to pick up another wicket, the important one of Virat Kohli in the 14th over. Kohli followed in Rohit’s footsteps as he chased a widish delivery and edged it to the keeper.

Dinesh Karthik joined Shikhar Dhawan, and they took India beyond 100. Shikhar Dhawan survived a close shout on 49, when he was adjudged out lbw. He took a review and it proved to be successful for the southpaw. Thereafter, Dhawan crossed 50, as Karthik settled in and the partnership grew. The first half of the chase was an absolute cruise for Team India, with Dhawan playing the aggressor.

New Zealand got an opening when they claimed Dhawan’s wicket. Like the others, he too perished to a loose stroke, handing a simple catch at cover. Hardik Pandya came in ahead of Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni, after his recent success in the series against Australia. He got into the groove straightaway and gave a handy support to Dinesh Karthik. The all-rounder kept dealing in boundaries and pulled down the required run rate further. The duo added a 50-run stand in no time and the Indian team was inching closer to a victory.

Dinesh Karthik played a well-calculated knock and brought up his 9th ODI fifty. It was a fine knock by the batsman who walked in at number 4. Soon after Karthik reached his fifty, Hardik Pandya got out as he swept a full toss by Mitchell Santner straight to the short fine leg fielder. MS Dhoni walked in and the crowd greeted him with a lot of cheers. He didn’t waste any time and kept dealing in boundaries. Karthik and Dhoni completed the proceedings as Team India went on to win the game by 6 wickets and kept the 3-match ODI series alive. Dhoni stayed unbeaten on 18 whereas Dinesh Karthik finished unbeaten on 64.

It was a clinical victory by the hosts as they performed extremely well with the bat and ball. Thus, the final ODI will be a decider on 29th October in Kanpur. It promises to be an exciting contest.


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