India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 4th day September 3, 2012

Kohli, Dhoni deliver win in thriller


India 353 and 262 for 5 (Kohli 51*, Dhoni 48*, Pujara 48) beat New Zealand 365 and 248 (Franklin 41, Ashwin 5-69) by 5 wickets
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Virat Kohli, the architect of so many ODI run-chases, scripted another one, this time in a Test, to hold together India's nervy batting line-up and lead the team to a 2-0 series victory. On another tense day of what has been a wonderful Test match, on a wonderful Test pitch, New Zealand fought hard all the way, and came up on top against some of the heavy weights of India's top order. Kohli, however, held firm, and with MS Dhoni offering sensible support, India finally chased down the target of 261 late in the evening, under lights, on another overcast day in Bangalore, with Dhoni ending the contest with a four and a six off successive balls. The end was emphatic, but for much of the day, the chase wasn't.

India's top four batsmen, all topped 25, but none got to 50, as New Zealand scraped and forced errors. Kohli walked in to bat at 152 for 3, after Sachin Tendulkar was bowled through the gate for the third time in the series, and soon saw India slide to 166 for 5, with only Dhoni and the tail for company. With the ball bouncing and seaming around a bit, and with Jeetan Patel getting some turn and bounce, India, and Kohli, had much to do.

As is his habit, Kohli started slowly, offering the bowlers plenty of respect. His first scoring stroke, though, was an emphatic one - a fluent cover-drive off a Trent Boult half-volley - and when he followed that with an off-drive in the same over, he was on his way. Between the gorgeous drives, though, was plenty of circumspect batting, as he defended solidly, and left deliveries outside off. After scoring no runs in his first 15 balls, Kohli scored 17 off his next 34. Only after having faced around 50 balls did he show more extravagance, exquisitely whipping one from Patel through wide mid-on, and then creaming three fours off a Southee over - a whip through midwicket, a cover-drive, and a straight-drive. His last 34 came off 33 balls, in what was the definition of a well-paced innings.

Dhoni, on the other hand, was frenetic at the start, scoring 19 off his first 16 balls, including a slog-swept six off Patel. That eased the pressure somewhat, with Ross Taylor perhaps missing a trick by keeping Patel on instead of attacking Dhoni with pace from both ends. As Kohli upped the tempo, Dhoni eased off, taking singles, rotating the strike, and not striking another boundary till victory was well within reach. The partnership between the two was worth 96, and it was a match-winning one.

The sixth-wicket pair finally won it for India, but for most of the day New Zealand put in a terrific performance in the field: the fast bowlers mixed up their lengths on a responsive pitch, testing all the Indian batsmen with the short stuff, while Patel flighted it, bowled at a slower pace, and flummoxed more than one batsman in a line-up which usually plays spin well. The only passage when they seemed lost for ideas was when Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were spanking it to all parts during a first-wicket partnership of 77 in less than 12 overs.

However, once they broke through, with Sehwag charging down the pitch and getting deceived by the flight, they fought all the way. Gambhir lost his way after a fluent start, scoring one off his last 20 balls after making 33 off 38 in Sehwag's company. Cheteshwar Pujara, who had starred with 72 in India's win over Australia at the same ground on his debut, had a mixed time here, mixing some pleasant drives with some nervy moments against both spin and pace: his hooking didn't always inspire confidence, while Patel repeatedly had him playing and missing at straight deliveries. He finally dismissed Pujara off a bat-pad catch for 48 with the score on 158, but would have dismissed him 24 runs earlier, with Pujara on 37, had Brendon McCullum, keeping wicket instead of the injured Kruger van Wyk, not muffed up a simple stumping chance.

India seemed to have taken a stranglehold on the game when Pujara and Tendulkar were involved in a 69-run stand, but New Zealand continued to press hard. The pair had to fight off a tense period before lunch as New Zealand recovered after the opening onslaught: only 17 runs came off the 12 overs after Sehwag's dismissal. However, both Pujara and Tendulkar were getting into groove, with the batsmen managing forcing shots through the off side to ease the pressure, when a 40-minute rain delay, which forced an early tea, stopped India's momentum.

Soon after resumption, India slumped from 147 for 2 to 166 for 5. Tendulkar was bowled for the third time in three innings, playing across the line to a full one from Southee that moved in a bit, while Suresh Raina had a brain freeze: not yet off the mark after facing nine balls, he charged wildly at his tenth, tried to blast it over midwicket, missed, and found his middle stump knocked back. It's a stroke that should give him nightmares, especially if he doesn't get another opportunity at Test cricket in the near future. In five home Tests against New Zealand, Raina has scored 84 in seven innings at an average of 12.

At that stage there was plenty to do for India, but then Kohli and Dhoni ensured there'd be no further hiccups.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Al on September 5, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    Replace Gambhir with Unmukt Chand, 10dulkar with Badri, and Raina with Irfan Pathan. Badri and Pathan are much better batsmen than 10dulkar and Raina.

  • Rajan on September 4, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    sad thing is for us indian fans that three of our 3 batmen combined batmen in gambhir,tendulkar and raina averges put together still dont average more than ashwin a no.8 batmen

  • Shiv on September 4, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    This B'lore wicket was an excellent Test match wicket and kept both teams in the game until the 4th day and more importantly had the spectators interested and aso ensuring a result. But this wicket has also exposed India's weakness and i think if we give Aus/Eng these kind of wickets it would be a tough ask for our boys, so i think we should go for spinning tracks for matches against Eng/Aus.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    Anyone knows, what is happening to Unadgat? As a teenager he had a "7-for", that too against WI "A" team, in WI. Wasim Akram had identified him as "future India material". Many saw the same kind of potential with Sandeep Sharma, in the just concluded World U-19. Will Sharma go the Unadgat way? Zak is not getting any younger. We need to have 3-member pace attack for the senior team on a fairly consistent basis, from which the tour selectors can pick ANY 2 depending on the conditions on that day. When are we going to see that?

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    @Bhavesh Buch. By and large I agree with you. But...Which new fast bowler was REALLY tried out here? Yadav was the only one included in the XI. (Irfan, whose skills were gradually getting retrieved was kept out). You started off snubbing Yadav by throwing the new ball to Ojha! Later too, Yadav was given some semblance of decent spells, only when Zak has to fetch his medical waist belt to wear on. When Yadav started spraying, I didn't see anyone going over to him, to advice/ encourage, before his run-up ( Both Zak & Sachin used to do it) So many young pacers are hoping and waiting... to,get a chance ... to play... and develop their skills... before stronger teams visit India, or when India tour abroad. Where are they getting recognized. Where are they getting chances?

  • Krishna on September 4, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    I think this series has been good in many ways, though the quality of opposition has not exactly been top notch. Virat's batting and more importantly his temperament have been exemplary. He is the fulcrum around which the Indian batting will revolve around for a long time to come.Pujara looks earnest, but needs to work on his temperance. He instinctively hooks the short ball, which can be detrimental to his future, particularly in countries like Australia and England. But he has potential.Rohit Sharma should come in. Granted, he has issues, but he is the most gifted of all. More than Rahane I think Unmukt Chand hast to be drafted in ASAP. He is supremely talented and the shots he has played in Australia have established his pedigree beyond a shadow of doubt.He should open with Gambhir or Rahane. Kohli should come in at one drop. Sehwag would be at number 4. Rohit Sharma at 5 and Pujara at 6. Then Dhoni. Raina is 12th man (for his fielding).That should be the team we should work towards

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    Rahul Vs Sachin. All the past statistics are useless. In the recent past, there is a great similarity and a great dissimilarity. SIMILARITY: Reflexes of both declined, started missing the line, and getting either bowled or LBW. DISSIMILARITY: Rahul was honest and modest enough to admit his decline and left with dignity and grace. Sachin is refusing to accept the reality, and is inviting pity at best or ridicule at worst.

  • adithya on September 4, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    guys don't bash sachin for everything.even i want sachin to retire as it's time to give chances for young batsmen but there is no need to abuse sachin.he served indian cricket for more than 90's sachin dominated every bowling attack in the world.he is not at his best at the moment but good batsmen will always score runs even in their tough times.i don't see sachin getting dropped against eng so we shud support him to make good scores.leave it to sachin he knows when to retire.

  • Shanmuga on September 4, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    @Ahsan Rafiq: That's an interesting analysis! Hats off for the attempt!

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Which mindless bloke would call Ashwin as a part of the tail? He scored test tons before Kohli did and had better average than Kohli before the last test.

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