Black Caps make winning start to T20 buildup
Some inspired at-the-death bowling from James Franklin and Jacob Oram has dragged the New Zealand cricket team back from the brink as they made a winning start to the final phase of their Twenty20 World Cup buildup campaign.
India were cruising to victory in Chennai today, requiring 49 runs from 42 balls with eight wickets in hand as they chased down New Zealand's 167-5.
Enter Franklin and Oram. Not the most fearsome of pace bowlers but they used all their experience and changes of pace to strangle the crack Indian top order, the hosts finishing on 166-4 and handing the Kiwis a thrilling one-run win.
New Zealand's batting effort was spearheaded by man-of-the-match Brendon McCullum's 91 off 55 balls, but Franklin was the unlikely hero with the ball.
Asked to bowl at the death with Kyle Mills (2-17 from three) having left the field following a sickening collision with wicketkeeper McCullum, the Wellington allrounder stepped up superbly, taking 2-26 from four overs including the vital wickets of Virat Kohli for 70 and Yuvraj Singh, who was bowled for 34 with six runs required from three balls.
That left Rohit Sharma with the task of hitting a boundary but Franklin, who was ably supported by Oram (0-27 from four), kept the new batsman to a pair of twos as the Kiwis claimed a 1-0 series win after the first match was washed out on Sunday.
It also maintains New Zealand's unbeaten record against India in Twenty20 cricket, stretching the winning streak to four matches.
''It's been a tough tour so far (two test losses) so it's nice to get this win and head off to Sri Lanka tomorrow with a nice feeling,'' Franklin said.
''I don't think I was expected to bowl for overs today but with the unfortunate incident with Millsy, Rosco needed someone to come in there. Thankfully it was my day today.
''After 10-12 overs it was India's game but funny things can happen in Twenty20 cricket.''
The match provided New Zealand with a nice start to their final World Cup preparations; they now head to Sri Lanka for warmup matches against Australia and South Africa before their opening match against Bangladesh next Friday.
McCullum led New Zealand's effort with the bat as the Kiwis overcame a poor start, having been asked to bat first.
Rob Nicol (0) was bowled around his legs attempting to hit behind square and Martin Guptill (1) was also cleaned out after heaving across the line, but McCullum and Kane Williamson (28 off 26) steadied proceedings with a 90-run partnership for the third wicket, in 11 overs.
McCullum's footwork was impressive, particularly against the spinners, as he pounded 11 fours and three sixes and set up captain Ross Taylor (25 off 19) and Oram (18 off nine) to finish off the innings nicely.
The classy Kohli looked to have taken the match away from New Zealand with 70 off 41, and Taylor's issues were compounded with opening bowler Mills having left the field.
He copped a McCullum elbow in the head as both players collided unsuccessfully attempting a catch in the outfield. It looked like a brutal blow and Mills appeared out of it for a brief moment, but he came around quickly and was assisted from the field with what is hoped will be nothing more than a black eye.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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