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Brendon McCullum’s heroics save Kiwis from an upset

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Brendon McCullum batted all the way till the end to save his side from a possible upset in a chase of just 150 in the 2nd and final T20I at Wellington. The match went to the wire with 12 needed to win from 6 balls and Irfan Pathan being the bowler under pressure up against the McCullum brothers. Irfan held well for the first three balls to make the equation 9 from 3 balls but then lost his nerve to allow Brendon McCullum snatch the match away with two consecutive boundaries. The Indian batsmen struggled this time around with the alien conditions something which they need to cope up quickly in the coming days.

Pace and bounce puts India on the backfoot

The drop-in pitch at the Westpac Stadium for this 2nd T20I had good pace and a lot of bounce. Daniel Vettori won the toss again and asked the visitors to post a target. While Gambhir couldn’t get going, Sehwag provided the hope with some lovely shots to provide the momentum until he scooped a simple catch to mid off in the 4th over. Sehwag scored 24 from 11 balls with 5 fours. India went onto lose two more quick wickets in Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir both dismissed by Ian Butler to get reduced to 47 for 3 in just over 6 overs. The visitors recovered after the triple blow through the clean hitting of Yuvraj Singh but Skipper MS Dhoni had a real struggle in timing the ball and finding the gaps. His counterpart Daniel Vettori succeeded in tightening the screws despite being smacked for a couple of sixes by Yuvraj.

The biggest blow for India came in the 13th over when Yuvraj Singh played a sweet lofted cover drive full of timing but not without power and for once his big hit was caught inside the boundary! Yuvraj had to settle for a 50 from 34 balls (with 3 fours and 4 sixes). India from 92 for 4 in the 13th over lost another big hope in Yusuf Pathan in the next over. They ultimately ended at 149 for 6 thanks to a last ball six from Irfan Pathan. Ravindra Jadeja was impressive with his cameo of 19 from 16 which had a six. Skipper Dhoni had a nightmare scoring an unbeaten 28 from 30 with just 2 fours. Once again Daniel Vettori dominated with figures of 4-0-21-1 and part time medium pacer Jesse Ryder was very smart in his 4 overs that went for just 18 runs!

Brendon McCullum keeps his cool to see NZ through

The new ball was thrown to Irfan Pathan and he was greeted with a six in the mid wicket stands by Jesse Ryder straightaway. Irfan did comeback with a few swinging deliveries but could only disappear out of the attack with 25 runs plundered out of his 2 overs. In the 5th over there was a much needed breakthrough coming from Zaheer as he defeated a slog from Ryder. The left handed batsman had already made enough damage with his 26 from 15 with 3 fours and 2 sixes by then. The way Ryder and Brendon McCullum started, it looked as if the Kiwis were in a hurry to wrap up the moderate target in quick time. In the 9th over, New Zealand were given a jolt when the inform Martin Guptil was shockingly given lbw despite getting a big inside edge off Harbhajan Singh.

The visitors got their act right after Guptill’s dismissal with Harbhajan and Ravindra Jadeja bowling on a tight leash. The runs didn’t come too easy and that brought India back in the game slightly but the Kiwis were always having plenty of wickets in hand. It was in the 18th over that India was seriously looking to win the match as Irfan Pathan made a superb comeback taking two wickets in two balls – yorking Ross Taylor (27 from 25 balls) and getting the dangerous Jacob Oram nick a square cut. The Kiwis were now 125 for 4 with 25 more to get from 15 balls! The penultimate over was given to Yuvraj Singh as Zaheer Khan had already bowled out and Ishant Sharma was unavailable having strained his shoulder during an attempted dive at mid off early on. The last two overs needed 23 to win and Yuvraj did well going for 3 runs in the first two balls but then was taken for a boundary by Broom, however he got his revenge when Broom holed out at mid wicket in the next ball. Yuvraj bowled a dot ball after that but his efforts were neutralized by Brendon McCullum’s boundary off the final ball which reduced the equation to 12 from 6.

Irfan Pathan looked very inspired to bowl his country to a win with his yorkers but he couldn’t sustain his focus to bowl a couple of poor deliveries that cost the match. The final ball needed just the 1 run to win and India almost got a wicket when substitute fielder Rohit Sharma lunged desperately to convert a miscued pull shot into a catch but in vain. Brendon McCullum was the Man of the Match for a second consecutive time, he remained undefeated on 69 (from 55 balls with 8 fours and a six). India would be happy with Harbhajan Singh, who wet for just 15 in his 4 overs while Jadeja looked fine for his 4 overs that cost 21.

Originally posted 2009-02-27 16:55:27.

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