India went into the Delhi ODI at Feroz Shah Kotla as favourites to clinch the match, and go 2-0 ahead. But, New Zealand finally got their bearings right to clinch their first win on the tour. The Kiwis may not have put up a big score on the board, but did just about enough to give their bowlers an outside chance. The visitors then broke open the slim door of opportunity with a fantastic bowling effort. As for India, it was a case of a missed chance. They should have chased down 243 without much trouble.
Looking back at the game, one would wonder whether there a hint of overconfidence in the way India went about their chase. A lot of the wickets fell to aggressive strokes, and before India knew, they found themselves in trouble. Being aggressive is something Indian teams of recent times have excelled in, but the batting performance on Thursday clearly displayed some amount of arrogance. Openers Rohit Sharma, who ended up getting injured, and Ajinkya Rahane, both fell to strokes that could have been avoided. Further, Manish Pandey too ran himself out when he had a great opportunity to excel.
Virat Kohli has been the go to man for India in numerous chases over the last few years. Even in the first ODI, it was his 85 that saw the hosts home in a not so impressive chase. However, on Thursday, he got out in an unfortunate fashion on his home ground, nicking one down the leg side, and India went on to lose the match. This shows how crucial Kohli is to India in a chase. The match was yet another indication that skipper MS Dhoni’s glory days as a finisher are over. He hung around for a while but never looked comfortable, falling well before the target in the end.
One of the few plusses in an otherwise disappointing batting effort was the mature head displayed by Hardik Pandya under pressure. The all-rounder starred with the ball in the first match, on his debut, and came up with a tough knock in a tense chase on Thursday. The match seemed all but lost when Pandya walked out to the crease. But, Pandya kept his head remarkably well under pressure, and in the company of Umesh Yadav, took India closer than they had expected to following a collapse.
For New Zealand, this was a much-needed victory to give their confidence a boost. Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson had not been having a great time so far. But, on Thursday, he rose to the occasion with a well-compiled hundred even as the others around him struggled. New Zealand’s bowling in the innings was also top class. Tim Southee and Trent Boult combined to pick up key scalps and peg India back. Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry, on the other hand, kept things tight. Even Martin Guptill chipped in with a couple of wickets to hurt India further. With a victory under their belt, New Zealand will have gained in confidence for sure.
--By A Cricket Analyst