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Batsmen bludgeon Kiwis into submission

Faisal Shariff | November 15, 2003 19:28 IST
Last Updated: November 16, 2003 00:10 IST

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New Zealand were here to make history.

Thirty-eight fours and six sixes later, New Zealand were history.

India scored 353-5 in 50 overs with centuries from Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag and a blinder of an innings from the unlikeliest of batsmen -- Rahul Dravid.

After a seemingly endless barrage of astounding strokeplay from openers Tendulkar and Sehwag, who shared a 182 run partnership, the Kiwis were mauled further by the Indians with even Dravid scoring a half-century in just 22 balls.

Tendulkar scored his 36th Limited Overs International century while Sehwag scored his sixth. Interestingly, four of Sehwag's LOI centuries have come against New Zealand.

In reply, the Kiwis were bowled out for 208 as India won the game by 145 runs and romped into the final to be played against Australia at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday, November 18.

Zaheer Khan returned figures of 3-30 while leg-spinner Anil Kumble and left-arm spinner Murali Kartik picked up two wickets apiece to end a disappointing tour of India for the Kiwis where they only managed one win.

Indian Innings:

The moment skipper Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to bat, the task was cut out for Messrs Tendulkar and Sehwag.

The Indian objective was clear and the intent of the openers palpable.

If India had to advance to the finals of the TVS Cup Tri-series, they had to win the final league match against New Zealand. And for that the openers had to attack with the force of a falling piano.

On a wicket where the ball did not come on to the bat, Sehwag decided to go on the offensive early with Tendulkar biding his time in the middle.

After playing out the first 30 minutes of the game, Sehwag cut and drove Tuffey for three successive boundaries in the ninth over.

Tendulkar on the other hand played well within himself for the first 10 overs of the match before deciding to shift gears. His first attacking stroke was, however, a mishit that alighted in no-man's land.

He got his first boundary in the 12th over and then sent Jacob Oram flying over point for a four.

Sachin TendulkarThereafter, Tendulkar attacked with the vigour of a puppy pouncing on a chew toy. He went after stand-in skipper Chris Cairns in his first over and sent him to the fence making sure that none of the bowlers started well.

Oram was the sufferer-in-chief of the onslaught with Tendulkar driving him on the up through the covers, then dancing down the wicket and flat-batting him straight over mid-wicket for four. He finished the over swivelling on his left toe and flicking the ball to the fine-leg fence.

At 94-0, India had enjoyed their most successful start of the series. When India reached their first fifty, Tendulkar's contribution was 14 runs. In the second he contributed 38.

The punch-counterpunch between the openers was riveting. Tendulkar raced ahead of Sehwag to reach his 50 off a mere 47 balls.

In his blueprint for batting, Tendulkar does not wait for his opponents to err. In his chanceless innings today, even good deliveries were given the full treatment. With bat speed that could beat the pace of the delivery arriving, Tendulkar was on song.

He hit Scott Styris for a six over mid-on and manoeuvred the next delivery pitched on off-stump down to the fine-leg fence.

Keen on getting some runs behind him before the Australian tour, Sehwag reached his fifty off 65 balls. It was a mature innings that had the audaciousness that Sehwag brings to his strokeplay, and yet was more measured and built on sound shot selection.

With an abdomen injury forcing skipper Stephen Fleming to the sidelines before the game, the Kiwi bowlers, bruised by the Indian onslaught, surrendered.

Tendulkar was criticised for his hundred in the first game at Gwalior, which was deemed a tad slow. Today, there was no scope for any such talk as the pace of the innings was express. The fact that Tendulkar got his hundred in the 30th over of the innings was proof enough.

As soon as he got his hundred, off just 87 balls, he raised his arms and bathed in the applause of the 35,000 spectators at Hyderabad's Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium.

Harris, however, got him chipping to mid-on soon after. Oram could take solace from the fact that he had a hand, rather both hands, in his dismissal as he took the catch to see Tendulkar's back for 102 off 91 balls.

Tendulkar's innings was a study. His singles (37) overtook the number of dot balls (36) even as a dozen boundaries flowed from his bat. He attacked every bowler in their opening over, ensuring that he dominated the proceedings. He possesses an insider's read on the bowler in front of him.

In 320 LOIs, Tendulkar has now registered scores of 50 or more on 100 occasions.

Sehwag, with ice running through his veins, was calm as he approached his sixth hundred.

On 92, he nicked Daryl Tuffey, but the ball flew past the outstretched hands of wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum to the third-man fence.

With Ganguly also attacking, there was no respite for the Kiwis. When Sehwag reached his hundred (off 119 balls), the Indians were racing at more than 6 runs an over.

In contrast to the balls being changed often through the tri-series, more bats were changed today. Tendulkar and Ganguly changed their bats once each while Sehwag changed his bat twice.

The day clearly belonged to Sehwag as he survived another chance when a lofted shot fell just short of Kyle Mills at long-off in the 40th over. Cairns the bowler could not believe his misfortune.

Tuffey caught Ganguly (33) brilliantly at long-off as India lost their second wicket at 256. Ganguly had earlier asked for a runner after receiving treatment on field. Tendulkar raced out to run for his skipper, much to the delight of the crowds.

Yuvraj Singh was promoted ahead of V V S Laxman and Dravid, but the move did not pay off.

Sehwag was caught by Lou Vincent for 130, his highest score in LOIs. At 283-3, India were in danger of failing to cross the 325 run mark with Yuvraj following him to the hut within the space of three deliveries. Laxman came and left without much ado, playing the ball on to his stumps.

But Dravid had other ideas. Few can match Dravid for technical correctness in international cricket, but his blinding innings of 50 in 22 balls put the match beyond the Kiwis.

Improvising with dexterity, Dravid cleared the fence at will and was undaunted playing the aerial shots. Such was the authority in his strokeplay that even the mishits kissed the boundary ropes.

It begs the question: Do we want to upset a player of such calibre and ability by asking him to don the wicket-keeping gloves? Barring Tendulkar, Dravid is India's most versatile batsmen in LOIs today.

India finished at 353-5 at a fraction over 7 runs per over.

Kiwi Innings:

The Kiwi riposte was of academic interest at best. Chasing 354 was clearly beyond them, especially with their main batsman, skipper Fleming, cooling his heals on the sidelines.

Opener Chris Nevin ended his series the way he had begun -- miserably. Advancing down the track to Ajit Agarkar, he was bowled, completely missing the swing of the new ball.

Spurred on by the early success, Agarkar swung one back to trap Chris Harris in front in his very next over.

In the three overs Agarkar bowled upfront, all the deliveries were pitched on good length and on off-stump. The result was there to be seen. Zaheer Khan on the other hand bowled a decent length, but strayed in line, resulting in some easy pickings for the Kiwis.

Zaheer was lucky as he picked up the wicket of Lou Vincent leg-before when the ball was clearly missing the leg-stump. Umpire K Hariharan, who had earlier goofed up on a couple of occasions in the Indian innings, irking the irascible Kyle Mills, raised the dreaded finger.

With three wickets gone by the ninth over, the Kiwis were down for the count with only some individual batting displays keeping the spectators back in their seats.

Scott Styris continued his good form and scored a quickfire 50 off 43 balls. He was especially harsh on Agarkar, Anil Kumble, and Tendulkar, smashing them for nine boundaries en route to his half-century.

Craig McMillan, who had ably supported Styris, top-edged Kumble looking to sweep the ball and was gone, caught by 'keeper Dravid for 20 (110-4).

Three overs later, Styris went after Kartik and was caught by Agarkar at long-off for 55. That ended what had been a great tour for Styris. He scoring 183 runs in the TVS Cup tri-series to go with his 153 runs in the two-Test series.

Laxman, though, provided the moment of the match. In the 24th over, Jacob Oram edged Kumble to first slip where Laxman caught the ball on the bounce. Even as Dravid and the bowler celebrated, Laxman confirmed that he had not caught the ball cleanly. Umpire David Shepherd applauded the gesture, a rare one in today's cricket.

Kartik eventually deceived Oram in the air and had him stumped for 11 (136-6).

The match then witnessed a riveting contest between two top-class spinners -- Kartik, a young left-arm spinner in great form, and Anil Kumble, the veteran fighting to keep his place in the side.

Kumble roared right back after Kartik took two wickets to get his second wicket of the match, tempting stand-in captain Cairns into a big shot. Cairns holed out to Zaheer Khan in the deep (154-7).

Both spinners turned the ball appreciably though Kartik was much harder to read in the air. When the two bowlers finished their quota of 10 overs each, there was not much to choose between them. Kumble finished with two for 36 while Kartik returned figures of two for 38.

Meanwhile, the Kiwi wickets kept falling a regular intervals and the Black Caps could never really enter the race. Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum got into a terrible mixup, which saw both batsmen at the striker's end. Bad bounce on the throw from the backward short-leg region by Yuvraj Singh almost allowed Vettori to regain his ground, but the alert Tendulkar quickly released the ball back on the stumps to run him out by a few inches (187-8).

In the 43rd over, with the score reading 180-8, McCullum pulled a shorter one from Zaheer Khan in the air towards mid-wicket. Kumble running in from the boundary made a valiant attempt, but misjudged the direction and grassed the chance.

McCullum, however, became the victim of yet another poor decision by Hariharan. A delivery from Khan pitched outside leg-stump and hit the 'keeper-batsman high on his inner thigh, but the umpire declared him out.

Two balls later, Daryl Tuffey was given out in similar fashion, though this time the ball pitched just marginally outside the line of leg-stump.

That ended a horrid day for New Zealand sports. First they were outclassed by the Wallabies in the first semi-final of the rugby World Cup in Sydney. And then they found the Indian Tigers a little too hot to handle in Hyderabad.

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