India muff another chase as New Zealand level series in Ranchi
New Zealand put up a disciplined performance with the ball as they defeated India by 19 runs in MS Dhoni’s home town of Ranchi to keep the five-match series alivecricket Updated: Oct 26, 2016 22:27 IST
News of failure or success doesn’t take much time to spread in India. So when Virat Kohli, India’s most successful batsman in run-chases now, was dismissed going after a wide Ish Sodhi delivery, people started climbing the South Gate in a bid to enter the stadium.
India’s best bet to win had departed but for the emotional people of Ranchi, it was an opportunity for their home boy to do it single-handedly. In the space of 10 overs, a bigger crowd was seen impatiently squeezing its way out of the gate. With MS Dhoni gone, they saw no point in hoping against hope. India were 135/4, but the match was as good as over.
As it happened | Ranchi ODI: New Zealand defeat India by 19 runs, level series 2-2
Wednesday’s 19-run loss in the fourth and penultimate ODI keeps the series alive at 2-2 but this result also raises serious doubt about India’s ability to chase down targets if Kohli is dismissed early. India’s Test captain played his part with a fluent 45 but barring Ajinkya Rahane’s knock, India’s batting lacked inspiration.
Things anyway looked ominous from the moment New Zealand won the toss for the first time on this tour. On a pitch that looked dry, Kane Williamson didn’t hesitate to bat first after packing his team with three specialist spinners. Chasing has been India’s forte nowadays. But this wasn’t the best pitch of the tour. Within the first 10 overs, it was apparent that the pitch was rapidly slowing down. And it uneven as well, keeping the Kiwis on the back foot.
For the first time in the ODI series, Martin Guptill came close to the form he was expected to show with the bat. He was gifted two reprieves by Amit Mishra, and Guptill made them count. Thanks to Tom Latham’s solid contribution, New Zealand got off to a great start, but India’s spinners quickly took control with a tidy performance. Mishra, Axar Patel and Kedar Jadhav together bowled 28 overs, taking three wickets for 107 runs, allowing Dhoni to restrict the innings to 260, at least 50 short of what they would have targeted. Still it was enough.
Rohit Sharma showed no sign of adjusting to the pitch as he flayed Tim Southee through covers for India’s first boundary. Rohit pounced on Trent Boult’s shorter length to cream two consecutive boundaries, but the moment Southee pitched it just right to get a bit of swing, his weakness outside off-stump was found out.
Equally disappointing was how neither Manish Pandey nor Jadhav tried to resurrect the innings. Whichever way you look at it, Kohli or Dhoni had to stay till the end. Fanning expectations of a repeat of the Mohali innings, Dhoni did come at No.4 but looked uncomfortable throughout his 31-ball 11 that contained no fours or sixes.
Dhawal Kulkarni and Umesh Yadav kept alive hopes of a miracle by stretching the match to the last two overs. And had Dhoni been around, 23 runs from 12 balls would have been an easy equation. This time though, he had no option but to watch India lose.