When the chips are down, champions respond in style! A sentence that summed up Team India’s brilliant comeback at Pune in the second ODI against New Zealand at Pune(25th October, 2017). The Men-in-Blue, thus, registered a 6-wicket victory in what was the 100th ODI between these two sides, to level the three-match series 1-1.
Losing the toss in the 2nd ODI was a blessing in disguise for India as Bhuvneshwar Kumar led a spirited bowling show by the hosts, getting rid of Martin Guptill (11) early in the innings. Jasprit Bumrah hit the staps immediately, trapping skipper Kane Williamson (3) LBW. Colin Munro too did not last long, falling prey to Bhuvi.
All hopes of a Kiwi fightback now rested on Ross Taylor and Tom Latham, a duo that had put on a match-winning 200-run partnership in the first ODI at Mumbai. However, there was to be no repeat of the Wankhede heroics, as Hardik Pandya got Taylor (21) to glove a rising delivery to MS Dhoni. At 58/4 in the 16th over, the visitors were in danger of being bowled out within 50 overs.
Henry Nicholls took his time initially but once he got his eye in, the southpaw started to rebuild the innings in the company of Latham. The duo added 60 runs. However, attempting one sweep shot too many, Latham fell to Axar Patel for 38.
Undeterred, new batsman Colin de Grandhomme played some sparkling strokes to put the pressure back on the Indian bowlers. But Bhuvi spoilt the Kiwi party, going past the defence of Nicholls (42) in the 38th over.
Post that, Yuzvendra Chahal struck twice in the 44th over as de Grandhomme (41) and Adam Milne (0) walked back to the pavillion. Mitchell Santner (29) and Tim Southee's (25) handy knocks propelled the visitors to a competetive 230/9, a total that definitely did not seem enough to defend. Bhuvi (3/45) was supported well by Chahal (2/36) and Bumrah (2/38).
In reply to New Zealand's total, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan began on a confident note. While Dhawan played his natural, attacking game, Rohit did not last long and fell to Southee for 7. The centurion from the previous match, Virat Kohli continued from where he had left and in the company of ‘Gabbar’, made the modest chase look like a cakewalk. The Delhi duo added 57 runs for the second wicket before Kohli (29) became Grandhomme’s first wicket of the series.
Dinesh Karthik, promoted to no. 4 spot, was determined to make the most of this opportunity. At the other end, Dhawan, having made a slight adjustment to his batting technique, played the short ball brilliantly, on his way to his 22nd ODI fifty. His 68 off 84 deliveries was studded with 5 boundaries and 2 sixes. By the time Dhawan was dismissed with the team score on 145, the match was pretty much in India’s bag.
Promoted to number five, Hardik Pandya didn't take much time to settle in as he rotated the strike well. With no pressure of a high asking rate, Karthik notched up his 9th ODI fifty. While Pandya (30) entertained briefly , the Pune crowd got it’s money’s worth once MS Dhoni came into bat with victory just 27 runs away. He did not dissapoint with an unbeaten 18 while Karthik’s unbeaten 64 ensured that Team India crossed the finishing line with 24 balls remaining.
Bhuvi bagged the Man-of-the-Match award for his scintillating spell.
The action now shifts to Green Park, Kanpur where the series decider will take place(29th October, 2017).