(Cricinfo) New Zealand pushed India off the No. 1 position in ODIs with another clinical performance although India’s middle order demanded that their bowlers stay at it till the end. Largely, though, the match followed the first ODI’s script. Jesse Ryder went bang bang for too brief a while, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor scored fifties to set up a final assault, Corey Anderson nearly blasted the fastest ODI fifty too, India had a big chase at hand and were kept alive by Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni but New Zealand kept producing timely wickets to pull India back every time they brought some semblance of parity to the chase.
There was supreme synergy in New Zealand’s innings, cut down to 42 overs because of rain that arrived in the 34th over. When Martin Guptill took his time at the top, Jesse Ryder smacked 20 off 11, making sure New Zealand were under no pressure when the ball started gripping for spinners on a slow surface. Guptill overcame the slow start, and added 89 with Williamson in 15.3 overs. Williamson and Taylor then nicely set it up for big hitting, and when the rain arrived New Zealand had lost only two wickets, which meant they would get a big boost when the target would be readjusted. And then Anderson and Taylor went berserk in a 74-run partnership in 4.4 overs. During that period that proved to be the difference in the end, Anderson scored 44 off 17, holing out when he went for the fifty off the 17th, and Taylor took 26 off 11.
That brutal hitting was in direct contrast to the delightful batting of Williamson, who played the most difficult shot to play on a slow pitch, the back-foot drive on the up, with ease. He didn’t play shots that left mouths agape, but found all the small gaps on the field. When he was set for a century – he was in the last game too – the rain arrived, and with only 8.4 overs to go on the comeback he perished trying to charge at Ravindra Jadeja in order to go over extra cover.
This wasn’t exactly bad news for New Zealand. Williamson had batted superbly without violence, but now was some time for violence. And violence there was when Anderson and Taylor set themselves up to clear the short boundaries. Anderson hit a six over long-on, and two each over long-off and midwicket; Taylor preferred the gaps, hitting only seven fours and no sixes. India pulled New Zealand back with only 23 in the last 3.2 overs, but like in the first ODI it turned out to be too little and too late.
Especially with the way the opening exchange went after India had been asked to chase 297 in 42 overs. Kyle Mills, playing in the absence of Adam Milne, and Mitchell McClenaghan were spot on at the top of India’s innings. They bowled with skill and accuracy, and with no loose balls available India had crawled to 21 for 0 with two reprieves when Tim Southee showed up in the eighth over. By now Shikhar Dhawan had become desperate and was bowled to an ugly swipe. In Southee’s next, Rohit Sharma finally managed to get out, and the asking rate had already crossed eight.
Kohli, though, seemed to be playing on a different plane from the moment he on-drove Southee past mid-on for four. This was an uncharacteristic innings, though. Usually Kohli manages to keep the risks to the minimum even when going at the kind of high strike rates he does. Here, with his team-mates stuck at the other ends and the asking rate shooting through the roof, he had to play lower-percentage cricket, premeditate a little, but somehow the shots kept coming off. In presence of Ajinkya Rahane, Kohli turned the lost match into a fight, but that man McClenaghan came back again to dismiss Rahane with a sharp bouncer.
Dhoni promoted himself with 170 required in 18.2 overs, but soon saw Kohli get out to his aggression. Suresh Raina and Dhoni kept the chase going, but Brendon McCullum kept attacking, bowling out his main bowlers one by one. It paid dividends when Mills got Raina in his ninth over when most captains would have been worried about the fifth bowler’s three overs remaining out of the last six and the asking rate within the batsmen’s reach. The final blow, though, came with Anderson’s offcutter getting Dhoni to sky a catch with 40 required off 17.
Further rain made sure India played only 41.3 overs in the chase, but by that time they had been well and truly beaten.