New Zealand Deny Yuvraj And India

New Zealand Deny Yuvraj And India
New Zealand Deny Yuvraj And India
©REUTERS/Vivek Prakash. Picture Supplied by Action Images

New Zealand 167-5 (McCullum 91) beat
India 166-4 (Kohli 70) by 1 run
Second Twenty20 International, Chennai

Yuvraj Singh was denied a fairytale comeback by the narrowest of margins as New Zealand won the second T20 International in Chennai by a single run. Yuvraj was out for 34 off 26 balls, leaving Rohit Sharma needing to hit six off the final two balls to complete the win. He could only manage a pair of twos as James Franklin held his nerve to end with figures of two for 26 from his four overs.

The pitch was one that New Zealand wouldn’t have expected to find when touring India. It had a generous covering of grass – one that was enough to prompt India captain MS Dhoni to leave out Harbhajan Singh in favour of L Balaji and opt to bowl first upon winning the toss. Dhoni was immediately rewarded with the wickets of both New Zealand openers inside the first two overs as Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan found enough movement to rearrange the stumps of Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill.

Brendon McCullum then came to the fore and played one of the two outstanding innings with which this match was graced. He began steadily but ended with 91 off 55 balls as he scored more than half of the Black Caps’ total of 167 for five. He found valuable support from Kane Williamson (28 off 26 balls) and Ross Taylor (25 not out off 19) but it would be wrong to suggest that they played anything more than a supporting role. In the second half of his innings, McCullum upped the temp with a stream of shots over extra cover and midwicket before falling to Pathan in the 17th over.

For India, Pathan ended with figures of three for 31, but it was the poor performance of their usual wicket-taker R Ashwin (none for 34 from three overs) which stood out and exposed the strange decision to prepare a green-tinged pitch.

That strange decision became stranger still when viewed in the context of New Zealand’s strong seam attack. Kyle Mills removed Gautam Gambhir in his second over, but Virat Kohli – promoted to open owing to the absence of Virender Sehwag – and Suresh Raina countered the early threat relatively well, adding 60 for the second-wicket.

Kohli’s dismissal for 70 off 41 balls in the 14th over left the match intriguingly poised and opened up the possibility of Yuvraj playing an emotional match-winning innings. He arrived at the crease with India needing 48 off 40 balls and hit two sixes during his ultimately futile 26-ball knock. Nonetheless, it marked an encouraging return for a man who not too long ago was wondering whether he might play cricket again.

© Cricket World 2012

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