Big target no problem for India

Mohammad Kaif’s unbeaten century ensured that the target of 279 was no problem for India against a New Zealand side missing both Shane Bond and Daniel Vettori in the second match between the two teams in the tri-series.

New Zealand, having won the toss and elected to bat first, made the decision to revert to the experienced opening pair of Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle instead of the combination used earlier in the series of Fleming and Lou Vincent. Having decided to leave out the top bowlers Bond and Vettori, a good batting effort was required. After a brief delay due to the advertising signs in front of the sightscreen causing problems for the batsmen, play got underway. The decision to open with Fleming and Astle appeared to be a good one as the two put on 54 in just eleven overs before Astle was dismissed for 11, obviously the minor partner in the partnership, caught behind of Ajit Agarkar. Vincent came in at number three and a promising partnership ensued before Fleming was run out for 47 off just 53 deliveries, a disappointing dismissal after looking well and truly set for a big innings. Vincent’s brisk 37 from just 23 balls ended in the same fashion as Fleming’s innings as he was run out with the score at 103. Although the run outs can be attributed more to great Indian fielding than to poor running, it is still disappointing to see two similar dismissals so close together. Hamish Marshall’s less than impressive tour continued with another departure before reaching double figures, and the score was 115/4 and looking decidedly shaky.

Scott Styris and Craig McMillan came together to firstly bring some respectability to the score and then to look to bring the team to a defendable total. They put on 87 before McMillan was clean bowled by Agarkar for 40, the team score at this stage 202/5. This brought Brendon McCullum to the crease, and he and Styris put on 42, McCullum scoring 28 of those before being caught by Kaif off the bowling of Ashish Nehra. Jacob Oram looked promising, hitting a four and a six in his 14 off just 5 deliveries, but it didn’t last nearly long enough as he was caught by captain Sourav Ganguly off Irfran Pathan with the team score at 266/7. The long and important innings of 56 from Styris came to an end not long afterwards, before Chris Cairns (surprisingly coming in to bat at no higher than ninth in the batting lineup), Andre Adams and Kyle Mills made up the remaining runs to bring New Zealand through to their final total of 278/9.

The Indian chase could not have had a better start. Ganguly and Virender Sehwag put on 66 for the first wicket, remarkably in less than seven overs, before Mills removed Ganguly, caught by Jeetan Patel for 19. This brought the match hero Kaif to the crease. Sehwag’s innings, which provided a fantastic start to the run chase, ended with his score on 45 from just 34 balls and the team score on 75 when he was clean bowled by Oram.

Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni ably provided support as Kaif played beautifully and brought up a well-deserved century with victory in sight. With Kaif at the crease it never really looked in doubt as he and Dhoni guided the team home with six wickets and two and a half overs to spare.

New Zealand sorely missed their two strike bowlers in Bond and Vettori in this match, but the way Kaif played it could not be guaranteed that the result would have been any different even if they’d had them in the side.

The matches between India and New Zealand are now even at 1-1 looking ahead to the now certain final between the two teams on September 6.

Match Summary:

New Zealand 278-9
Scott Styris 56, Stephen Fleming 47
Ashish Nehra 2-57, Irfan Pathan 2-60

India 279-4
Mohammed Kaif 102*, Virender Sehwag 45
Jacob Oram 1-22, Kyle Mills 1-35

Cricket Web Player of the Match: Mohammed Kaif – 102 not out.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Richard Edmunds