India live to fight another day

3rd ODI: Jadeja, Ashwin wrest a tie from the jaws of certain defeat.

ESCAPE ARTISTE: Jadeja snatched India a tie from a situation of almost certain defeat.

Scorecard | Match pictures | Schedule | Praise for Kohli

AUCKLAND:
For 99 overs India were out of the match. But in the last six deliveries of the night, with 18 required for an unlikely victory, Ravindra Jadeja almost pulled off a miracle by smashing Corey Anderson for two fours and a six. Those timely hits, plus a couple of questionable wides, and the singles that Jadeja and last-man Varun Aaron scampered off them, ensured that the game ended with honours even. The tie was only the seventh played by India in ODIs and first between the two countries. It leaves MS Dhoni’s side trailing by 0-2 in the five-match series, now with no hope of winning it.

The evening was rife with shoddy cricket: dropped catches, umpiring howlers, missed run-outs, flared tempers. Set a stiff target of 315, India were on the edge on 184/6 in the 36th over, with no realistic chance of making a fight of it. It was here that the first of the improbabilities began to take shape. R. Ashwin, currently in the news for his struggles with the ball, was promoted over Jadeja and smashed his maiden ODI fifty, a brilliant 46-ball 65, to bring the requirement to a manageable 46 runs from 31 balls. The Chennai off-spinner was then taken magnificently by Martin Guptill - the first-innings centurion - at deep mid-wicket, the fieldsman hopping out over the rope and back into the field of play to complete a smart catch.

Not to be bogged down, Jadeja resumed from where his CSK teammate had left. Dropped at third-man and not given caught behind after a clear edge, he capitalized by creaming sixes off Mitchell McClenaghan, and farmed the strike after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami departed in quick succession. Jadeja finished unbeaten on a 45-ball 66, the third fifty scored by a Chennai Super Kings in the match. Dhoni’s 50 and Suresh Raina’s 31 had earlier enabled India to tide over a jittery middle phase during which they lost four wickets for 15 runs.

VARUN FOR ISHANT


Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had powered to 64 in under 10 overs when Dhawan (28) was caught on the pull. Rohit made a fluid 39 before he also perished to Anderson. Virat Kohli had a first poor game of the series when he edged through to the wicket-keeper, and Ajinkya Rahane was caught down the leg-side. This meant India had slid down from 64/0 to 79/4. Dhoni had earlier dropped Ishant Sharma for Varun and chosen to bowl. All through, the Kiwis looked good for much more than the eventual 314 they mounted, but a flurry of wickets that resulted from maddening haste caused the latter half of their innings to wobble.

Jesse Ryder was impressive, but flattered to deceive again as he was bowled by Bhuvneshwar. Kane Williamson contributed a composed 74-ball 65 and allied with the centurion Guptill (111) for 153 in 28.3 overs. This was the stand that formed the bedrock of the New Zealand’s score, one that was supplemented lower down by Luke Ronchi’s cameo and a wild Tim Southee 27 that pushed the score beyond the 300 mark.

All through the hosts were helped along by sloppy Indian fielding. Both Guptill and Williamson received a couple of run-out reprieves apiece – each time a direct hit would have sent them on their way – and Raina also dropped a catch off the latter’s bat.

SOUTHEE HITS OUT


New Zealand were 189/1 in the 33rd over then when they went on to lose Williamson, Corey Anderson, Guptill and Brendon McCullum within a span of 30 runs. Anderson (8) was bowled by Ashwin; Guptill, having survived another run-out chance on 98 and having completed his fifth ODI ton, swept Jadeja to mid-wicket; while Brendon McCullum was caught at point for a duck. Ross Taylor (17) and Nathan McCullum (1) were both run-out.

Once Luke Ronchi departed for a 19-ball 39, India turned on the brakes and only 34 came from the last six overs. Southee, who was dropped by Bhuvneshwar in the 48th over, made the Indians pay with big hits at the death. Shami went for 84 in his 10 overs, while Jadeja and Ashwin, the two spinners, gave away just 94 in a combined 20 overs.

ALSO SEE: MATCH PICTURES

Ross Taylor of New Zealand reacts during the One Day International match between New Zealand and India at Eden Park on January 25, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty ... more 
Ross Taylor of New Zealand reacts during the One Day International match between New Zealand and India at Eden Park on January 25, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) less 
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Getty Images | Photo by Stringer / Anthony Au-Yeung
Sat 25 Jan, 2014 2:30 PM IST

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