India v New Zealand at Gwalior
Anand Vasu

India innings: 30 overs, End of innings,
New Zealand innings: End of match,

Kiwis blunder to 14 run loss

When Nathan Astle was motoring along to yet another hundred, there was talk around the press box that the match would be over in 42 to 45 overs and that we could all go home early. At the end of the day, the match went right down to the wire. Of the three matches that have taken place in this series so far, the last one was the least spectacular. Yet, it was the most absorbing.

Craig Spearman was shaky from the start and did not play the ball with the ease he has displayed so far in the limited overs games. He edged the ball many times and was lucky not to drag it back onto his stumps on more than one occasion. He finally chopped a ball from Chopra straight to Dravid at slip and was dismissed for an even paced 32 off 62 balls.

Adam Parore in his new position at No 3 came down the wicket and played a most unnecessary shot to a straight full delivery from Ganguly and was bowled all ends up. He had made 3 runs.

Fleming then got together with Astle for the best partnership of the Kiwi innings. Astle was going strong, stroking the ball powerfully through the off side and Fleming kept him good company. Fleming did not take any undue risks and was taking New Zealand closer and closer to the highly attainable target of 262. The pitch still played true, and all it would have taken was a sensible batting performance from New Zealand to see them home.

That simply was not to be.

After Fleming was trapped LBW by Nikhil Chopra on 27, the New Zealand batsmen who followed seemed to lose the plot completely. A team that is stacked with all rounders and utility cricketers in the middle order saw a day of collective failure.

Nathan Astle was dismissed just 3 runs short of his century when he was bowled by Anil Kumble. With Astle's dismissal, the Kiwi batting lost all stability. He took 111 balls for his 97.

Roger Twose was the first to go, running straight down the wicket to a stroke that had no run in it. Ajit Agarkar on his follow through picked the ball up and flicked it underarm to the stumps. The third umpire was called for and Twose was gone.

Chris Cairns took a huge swat at a ball from Agarkar and ended up hitting it straight down Mohanty's throat on the leg side fence. The all rounder had once again let New Zealand down when only a steady knock was required of him. His 8 runs had come off an unusually slow 18 balls.

Scott Styris used the long handle to good advantage and hoicked anything that was short through mid wicket. He gave New Zealand some hope with an over in which he pulled successfully twice - once for six and once for four. But he too attempted the stroke once too often and played all around a full delivery from Kumble. The ball made a mess of his stumps and New Zealand's chances.

Alex Tait breezed in and out, totally unequal to the situation. A straight, full delivery from Chopra beat Tait in the flight and bowled the newcomer for just one run.

The mantle of miracle worker fell on Harris once again and the task was just too big by this stage. Even a 14 run 46th over did not get New Zealand sufficiently close to the target.

Ajit Agarkar and Nikhil Chopra bowled well at the death, keeping the ball straight and well up to the bat. The pressure mounted on the Kiwis and they buckled.

India now go 2-1 up in the 5 match series and will look forward to sealing the series at Guwahati. The man of the match Sourav Ganguly would do well to carry his good form with him for the rest of the series.

Bengal tiger roars as India make 261

Sourav Ganguly went from strength to strength and his confidence almost cost him his wicket in the 36th over. Chris Drum kept Ganguly quiet with a string of tight deliveries. Ganguly then made room and tried to hit Drum back down the ground. The ball went strongly off the bat towards the bowler. Drum got his hands to the ball, which was just above his head, but could not hold on to the catch.

Off the very next over Astle gave a perfect demonstration of how a return catch should be taken. Jadeja drove on the up straight back down the ground and Astle got both hands to the ball. The ball was struck firmly and popped out of his hands. Astle still had enough time to roll down and snatch the ball inches above the ground. Jadeja had made 15 runs and looked good for more.

Vijay Bharadwaj replaced Jadeja and struggled to get going. Bharadwaj showed little initiative and tied himself in knots. He seemed overly eager to get out of his blocks after he had played a stroke and a run out looked on the cards. Like many batsmen before him, Bharadwaj was tied down for a period of time and then frustrated into giving his wicket away. He knocked the ball towards mid on and came charging down the wicket. Styris at mid on sprinted across, dived and flicked the ball to Adam Parore who whipped off the bails as Ganguly and Bharadwaj watched from the other end.

Robin Singh, India's last recognised batsman came out and played the kind of innings that has fetched him a guaranteed spot in the Indian One-Day team. Ganguly was now close to his hundred and Robin Singh proved to be an ideal foil as he stroked the ball into the gaps and kept the scoreboard ticking over. Ganguly looked like he may slow down just before reaching his hundred, but that didn't happen as he smashed Astle straight back down the ground to reach the nineties.

Ganguly brought up his hundred off 127 balls and was easily India's best batsman on the day. While the pitch was still an excellent batting strip, it was a combination of good bowling and fielding that had denied the Indians.

Robin Singh got in on the act and flat batted Astle for six over long on. It was exactly what the situation demanded - a mixture of raw power, aggression and yet sensible shot selection.

Ganguly had a big let off when umpire SC Gupta called a high full toss from Scott Styris a no ball as the Bengali southpaw hit the ball straight to Astle at mid on. Television replays showed that Styris had not overstepped the line and the no ball would have to be with regard to the height of the full toss. However the rule about full tosses above waist level is applicable only in the case of the ball posing physical threat to the batsman. A Styris slower ball can hardly be classified as dangerous.

In the last few overs the two left handers improvised well and took the attack to the Kiwis. Fleming persisted with a fine leg in the circle and paid a very dear price. Both Singh and Ganguly regularly walked across their stumps and turned the ball tom the vacant deep fine leg region for four. Robin Singh swung another huge six over mid wicket and the momentum had swung the way of the Indians.

At the end of the innings Ganguly was unconquered on a magnificent 153. Robin Singh had once again proved his worth with a 45 run unbeaten burst that came off just 34 balls. The Singh-Ganguly partnership was worth 123 runs and had seen India through to 261/5.

Kiwi seamers restrict India

The third match of the One-Day series between India and New Zealand had much promise with the two teams sharing honours in the first two games. On perfect batting wickets 300 plus scores have been posted three times in four knocks. For the third One-Dayer, which would tilt the balance one way or the other, India brought in Ajit Agarkar and Debashish Mohanty for Srinath and Prasad who were taking a well deserved rest before the tour of Australia. New Zealand made one change, bringing in Alex Tait for Shayne O'Connor.

Sachin Tendulkar who is coming off a good run personally - a double hundred in Tests and his and India's individual best score in the previous One-Dayer - was frustrated by some good tight bowling early on. The Indian captain was stuck on 0 for 17 balls before he could open his account. After making that one run he was still unable to get going. His frustration got the better of his after he had faced 23 balls for 1 run. He attempted to pull a ball from well outside off stump off Chris Drum and ended up nicking it to Adam Parore who made no mistake.

With Tendulkar gone, Ganguly began to stroke the ball fluently and found the gaps in the off side field with regularity. Leaning back, the Bengal southpaw eased the ball to the boundary with sheer timing.

Rahul Dravid was dismissed by a ploy similar to the one that caused Tendulkar's downfall. Newcomer Alex Tait gave Dravid no room to play his strokes and after 31 balls that yielded just 14 runs, Dravid holed out to Horne at mid off.

The huge totals that were predicted on this batting strip began to look unlikely and in desperation the Indian think tank sent out Nikhil Chopra to speed up the scoring. When batsmen of the calibre of Tendulkar and Dravid had struggled it was unlikely that Chopra would succeed. He managed to hit one boundary straight down the ground but attempted to slog Nathan Astle and paid the price. He missed a full straight delivery and was bowled. His 15 runs had taken 32 balls.

Ajay Jadeja joined Ganguly at the wicket and at the end of 30 overs Ganguly was unbeaten on 64. He was playing the lone steady hand in an innings that was heading nowhere in particular.

Date-stamped : 11 Nov1999 - 19:34