India romp into final with emphatic win over Kiwis
An inspired India reversed their sliding fortunes with an emphatic 145-run victory over New Zealand.india Updated: Nov 15, 2003 23:07 IST
Wonder who'd be the happiest - skipper Sourav Ganguly, the Board, or the people of Kolkata. India are in the final of the TVS Cup tri-series, winning the last league match, a virtual semi-final, against New Zealand by the big margin of 145 runs at the Lal Bahadur Stadium here on Saturday night.
As for the Kiwis, their dream of being the first team from that nation to return undefeated from here remained unfulfilled. Replying to India's massive 353 for five, New Zealand folded up for 208 in 47 overs. India now meet Australia in the final in Kolkata on November 18.
Ganguly called correctly in the afternoon. Ajit Agarkar came in for Ashish Nehra, while New Zealand, with just 12 to choose from, opted to leave out Ian Butler.
Chasing a seven-plus asking rate from the start does not instill any confidence in any team, and New Zealand were no different. Then with Agarkar making the early breakthroughs with the wickets of Chris Nevin and Chris Harris, it was always an uphill climb.
Someone had to play a blistering innings even to keep New Zealand anywhere in the match, and Scott Styris took the attack to the Indian camp, with an attacking 54 off 49 balls with nine fours, before Agarkar brought off a fine catch to dismiss him off Murali Kartik. Styris' dismissal, and the end of the ever-dangerous Chris Cairns, who holed out after scoring 23 runs, spelled the end of the match.
Earlier, Tendulkar, who had missed out on a hundred in Bangalore, was not to be denied as he played one of his most convincing innings recently to claim his 36th One Day International hundred.
Sehwag too had been under the microscope, especially his none-too-impressive showing in the previous game. He too made the most of the ineffective bowling to score his sixth ODI hundred. The two were involved in a run-a-ball opening stand of 182, the backbone of the Indian score.
Rahul Dravid added to the total tremendously with his sensational mix of the authentic and the improvised in the slog overs. The vice-captain hammered three sixes and five fours to score an even 50 off 22 balls.
The ominous signs were all there. Tendulkar cut out on all the expansive shots initially, opting to settle down and gauge the pace and bounce off the pitch properly before he got into the act.
It was 54 minutes before he found the boundary, and if the Kiwis thought it was a good sign, they did not know what they were in for. Once he began playing strokes, he was unstoppable. This was Tendulkar at his dominating best, and the bowlers waited for him to make a mistake.
Tendulkar's departure too was not good news for New Zealand. A slower one from Chris Harris broke through the surface of the pitch, and held up on the batsman, inducing a miscue. That was not the last of Tendulkar though, as he soon returned as runner for Ganguly when the skipper, on 28, strained his groin.
The Indian innings was well planned. Sehwag began the assault as Tendulkar began slowly. The Delhi opener took on Daryl Tuffey and the horizontal bat shots, which the bounce off the pitch encouraged, flowed as the scoring rate accelerated.
Sehwag threw his bat at almost anything, and most of the time connected effectively. He went over the fielders - at cover, point, and even the wicket-keeper as the New Zealand bowlers were driven to desperation. By the time he departed in the 44th over, he had hit 15 boundaries and two sixes.
Ganguly came in at one-drop, and with Sehwag slowing down just a tad as he approached 100, the skipper took it upon himself to continue the momentum. He belted four boundaries, getting 33 runs off 31 balls.
First Published: Nov 15, 2003 14:06 IST