Thursday 23 January 2014 

Match Point: India Dethroned

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane's dismissal was a key turning point in the second ODI in Hamilton
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

India suffered their fourth loss in the last five One-Day Internationals, all of them overseas, after going down by 15 runs (D/L method) in the second match versus New Zealand at Hamilton on Wednesday.

This was after the Black Caps scored 271 for seven in 42 overs in a rain-curtailed game. This loss was enough to dethrone the men in blue of the number one ODI ranking.

Contest of the Day

Of late Virat Kohli’s dismissal means the end of the road for India, especially whilst chasing. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a master at chasing down targets, but in recent times he has suffered in his cause because of a lack of support. For the first time in a while, there was some coming through from the Indian batting ranks as both Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina scored runs.

The former was keen on adding runs in the middle order, scoring 36 runs, and did well in Kohli’s company, adding 90 runs for the third wicket. A few more matches and he will have enough confidence to make the number four spot his won as consistency will kick into his play.

Raina too is about confidence at the moment, or a lack of it. Batting higher up in the order, at number four or five, he was attacked by the opposition batsmen with short stuff, something he cannot handle and will get out to sooner rather than later.

Batting at number six, he was able to overcome this problem since he was only required to bat for a short period of time. This gave him an attacking instinct and he was able to get on top of the bowling, countering even the short stuff. A small cameo of 35 runs might just allow him some breathing space, a little faith in his ability since he hit three boundaries off short deliveries, and help him regain confidence ahead of sterner tests.

With these two batsmen contributing runs, Dhoni managed to run the chase quite close. If it wasn’t for the D/L method, India would have won the game, finishing at 277 for nine with three balls to spare.

This isn’t about the vagaries of the system however, since all teams have to suffer from it. It is about the fight that the Indian skipper put in and it was one of those rare occasions when he couldn’t pull it off.

Dhoni coming in at number five was partly acknowledgment of the fact that Raina wasn’t the man to do the job. Until the very end, he kept fighting, first with Kohli and then with Raina, the latter partnership adding 62 runs in only 6.3 overs at a strike rate of 9.53 per over.

The required run-rate was equally high at that time and for a little time it seemed that India might be able to pull it off. But the pressure to keep scoring high runs every over finally got to them and defeat was written large on Dhoni’s face at the very moment Raina holed out in the 37th over.

Player of the Day

Once again, Corey Anderson proved to be the best cricketer on the field. Only this time he decided to make someone richer, hitting five sixes in his 17-ball stay.

Of course Ishant Sharma and the other Indian bowlers had an equal part in making rich the youngster who caught his six one-handed. When the rain stopped, and Kane Williamson got out, it was apparent that Anderson would start a precipitation of his own and he did, blistering 44 runs and nearly getting the fastest fifty to his name as well.

While he did hole out before he got there, more opportunities against this Indian attack will shortly present themselves.

Even so, this was more about his bowling than batting. He proved expensive in his opening spell, but came back to take three wickets, getting both Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja just as the Indian tail was beginning to wag quite a bit.

His all-round prowess has impressed many, and it can be safely assumed that with every passing outing, a few zeroes are added to Anderson’s future IPL contract.

Match Point

It wasn’t when Dhoni holed out to Williamson off Anderson in the 40th over that India were undone. Just like the first ODI at Napier, it was a bit earlier.

Only this time it wasn’t the regular culprits whose dismissals triggered this loss. It was Rahane getting out, against the run of play trying to pull a wide delivery off Mitchell McClenaghan that broke the camel’s back.

He had almost added a century stand (90 runs) with Kohli, and a few more would have allowed Dhoni to cross the finishing line later.

But it wasn’t to be as India lost their number one crown. It is not going to be easy retaining it.

© Cricket World 2014

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Fixtures & Results

19th January: 1st ODI, McLean Park, Napier
NZL 292-7 beat IND 268 by 24 runs
22nd January: 2nd ODI, Seddon Park, Hamilton
NZL 271-7 beat IND 277-9 by 15 runs (D/L)
28th January: 4th ODI, Seddon Park, Hamilton
NZL 280-3 beat IND 278-5 by 7 wickets
6th-10th February: 1st Test, Eden Park, Auckland
NZL 503 & 105 beat IND 202 & 366 by 40 runs
14th-18th February: 2nd Test, The Basin Reserve, Wellington
NZL 192 & 680-8d. drew with IND 438 & 166-3