India hit back in style

Bowlers come to the party as hosts crush Kiwis by 6 wickets

India hit back in style
The second ODI didn’t have the best of build-ups for Indian fans with the controversy over the pitch threatening to mar the proceedings just four hours before the start, but the end couldn’t have been any better for the capacity crowd as India levelled the three-match series against New Zealand with an emphatic six-wicket win.

Stung by the reversal in Mumbai where the Indian attack failed to defend a total of 280, the home bowlers produced a vastly improved performance to restrict New Zealand to an inadequate 230 for nine with both pacers and spinners giving little away. India then rode on half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (68, 84b, 5x4, 2x6) and Dinesh Karthik (64 n.o., 92b, 4x4) to reply with 232/4 in 46 overs and keep the series alive here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium on Wednesday.    

Rohit fell for the second consecutive low score but Dhawan attacked and anchored the chase before throwing his wicket away with India still far from safety. Karthik, who was promoted to No 4, held firm and with a confident Hardik Pandya for company, India closed in on the target as the duo added 59 runs off 65 balls. Earlier, skipper Virat Kohli had scored run-a-ball 29, sharing a 57-run stand with Dhawan off just 56 balls to take the pressure off the batsmen to follow.

While the batsmen did mount a calculated chase, it was the bowlers who set up India’s win. On a wicket, which was far from being a bowlers’ ally but for some seam movement due to presence of a small amount of grass, they were right on the money. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/45) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/38) did the damage upfront while spinners, including Kedar Jadhav, sustained the pressure to keep the Kiwi batsmen in check.

New Zealand batting, after Kane Williamson opted to bat first, never took off. The start was terrible, recovery phases were woefully inadequate and a few cameos that came could take them only so far. Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah shared the first three wickets between them before Pandya chipped in with one to reduce New Zealand to a precarious 58 for four.

Getting the ball to seam off the pitch, Bhuvneshwar kept the Kiwi batsmen in complete check. He dismissed Martin Guptill with one that shaped away and cleaned up Colin Munro with a delivery that jagged back into the left-hander. Sandwiched between these two dismissals was skipper Kane Williamson who was trapped leg-before by Bumrah. Williamson reviewed the decision but it turned out to be umpire’s call.

Williamson’s fall linked up New Zealand’s last-match heroes -- Ross Taylor and Tom Latham (38 off 62). The duo raised hopes of another recovery though they were largely quiet during their 31-run association in 10 overs. The resistance ended when Pandya dug one short but Taylor could only nick him behind to MS Dhoni while attempting a pull.

Henry Nicholls (42 off 62) and Latham put their heads down and raised a 60-run stand at a decent strike rate, with the former doing the bulk of scoring. Latham, who had swept his way to unbeaten ton in Mumbai, found the going tough against flat off-spinners of Kedar Jadhav, who didn’t bowl in the first match, and left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who came in for Kuldeep Yadav. While he largely batted with a straight bat, his end came when he tried to sweep Axar and missed the line to lose his stump.                  

At 118 for five, a total of 200 looked a distant possibility but Colin de Grandhomme (41 off 40), Mitchell Santner (29) and Southee (25) chipped in with their might to provide the tourists’ innings a semblance of respectability.
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