Last-gasp tie steals some momentum for India

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014
Ravinda Jadeja
PHOTOSPORT
NOT SO FAST: Big-hitting Indian batsman Ravindra Jadeja may have swung the momentum in his side's favour as the one-day series against the Black Caps heads to game four in Hamilton.

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Park it and move on, insist New Zealand's brains trust after their epic Eden Park tie - but India are now the ones on a roll as this one-day cricket series heads for a thrilling finish.

It was difficult to escape the feeling that India took more out of one of the best one-day games seen in New Zealand, when Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bludgeoned them level with the hosts' 314 on Saturday night.

The Black Caps now cannot lose this five-match series, which goes to game four in Hamilton tomorrow.

But India's last 15 overs with the bat - in which they plundered 137 - and some scarring for New Zealand's death bowlers will test the home side's mettle as they look to get rid of their recent jitters when trying to close out limited-overs series.

"You sit around the changing-room afterwards and you can probably pick about 3 million scenarios - if we had that extra run or if there was the wide - but you need to let it go and move on to the next game.

"No-one can really pick a tie," said batsman Kane Williamson.

New Zealand made huge strides this past week and look a genuine one-day force. Still, the nagging doubt about finishing the job in big matches needs to be scotched with a view to the World Cup.

When India's talisman skipper M S Dhoni was held by Tim Southee on the square leg boundary, India were 184-6 in the 36th. It looked game over. But India still had two sleeping giants whose eyes grew wider when they saw Eden Park's short straight boundaries.

Williamson admitted Ashwin (65 off 46) and Jadeja (66 not out off 45) caught them on the hop.

"I guess you have to say yes, based on past performances in the last few games. But all of us have seen what they can do and they certainly stepped up."

New Zealand's bowlers gave too many full offerings but had enough chances to win it. Southee got his fingertips on a low Jadeja offering on 25 and Hamish Bennett, who made an excellent comeback with the ball, shelled a Jadeja flyer at third man on 49.

Williamson missed a couple of direct hit attempts from side on with the batsman short and gloveman Luke Ronchi missed a comfortable Ashwin stumping on 57.

The crucial moment left New Zealand ruing the absence of the decision review system which India refuse to play ball with.

Mitchell McClenaghan was adamant he had nicked out Jadeja on 42 but Australian umpire Rod Tucker disagreed. Television's Snicko replay showed he had indeed got an edge.

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Martin Guptill pulled off a stunning boundary catch, throwing the ball infield and regathering, to remove Ashwin.

Then Corey Anderson got handed the final over with five wickets already in his bag, and India requiring 18 with one wicket in hand.

Jadeja twice sent Anderson over the rope but with two required off the final ball he could only squeeze to extra cover for a single, leaving 28,612 Indian-dominated fans hoarse and a little bemused there was no winner.

"The most important thing is being alive in the series," Dhoni said. "We should have lost the game from 140-odd down for five-six.

"With that partnership we should have won from there. But it didn't go our way. In the end, the tie was a good one because good cricket was played and bad cricket was also played by both sides," Dhoni said.

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum hailed a "pretty awesome" Jadeja innings but felt 314, anchored by Guptill's fifth one-day century, was enough. There was no doubt the Black Caps lost their way from an outstanding platform at 189-1 in the 33rd over when 340-plus looked possible.

That would have shut the game down. Instead, McCullum rued some poor decisions and "silly cricket" which involved runouts and bad shots. Still the skipper's glass was half-full with another chance to win the series in Hamilton.

"We're proud of how we're playing at the moment and the characteristics we're showing.

"You're starting to see a team that's growing in confidence.

"We executed our blueprint pretty well for the majority of it and lost our way for a little bit."

- Fairfax Media

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