New Zealand v India, 3rd ODI, Auckland January 25, 2014

Jadeja, Ashwin keep series alive with tie


New Zealand 314 (Guptill 111, Williamson 65) tied with India 314 for 9 (Jadeja 66*, Ashwin 65, Dhoni 50, Anderson 5-63)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

On a surreal night when New Zealand kept swinging between the spectacular and the silly, they just couldn't conjure enough to close the deal against a resilient Indian lower middle order, which snuck a tie to keep the series alive. New Zealand had the game won when they brought together R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja with India still needing 131 in less than 15 overs. After that they had opportunities to kill the game off, but dropped a catch, missed a stumping, and couldn't hit the stumps.

When it became really desperate, Martin Guptill, who had scored a century earlier and taken a blinder earlier in the match, pulled off a sensational catch at the boundary to bring New Zealand right back. And then came the wides, another drop, another missed run-out. They just couldn't put it past Jadeja, who with No. 11 for company, took 17 off the last over, bowled by Corey Anderson, who had taken five wickets. They might even have something to say to the umpires who denied them the wickets of Jadeja and Suresh Raina, and twice wided them unfairly. India faced the brunt of poor judgement of wides once themselves.

It was a difficult night to explain. New Zealand could have scored 350. They could have been bowled out for 289. They could have won by 50 runs. They could have easily lost. Hamish Bennett, with all the titanium in his reassembled back, made a superb return to international cricket with back-to-back maidens to Virat Kohli, and then the timely wickets of Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and figures of 2 for 41 in 10 overs. His last act of the night was to drop Jadeja in the 49th over, and with that a 21-run win. Ashwin dived to complete threes, Jadeja turned down singles, umpires forgot the wide law, didn't hear edges, and in the final act of disbelief, Jadeja didn't even try the second when two were required off the last ball.

Tim Southee took the fumbling New Zealand past 300 with 27, went for a few, took a swerving blinder off MS Dhoni's bat in the outfield, but couldn't quite get to another offering from Jadeja when India still needed 64. Luke Ronchi played his part with 38 off 20, but missed a regulation stumping chance a ball after Southee had reprieved Jadeja.

What of Bhuvneshwar Kumar then? He got the rampaging Jesse Ryder out, kept India in it with just 48 off his nine overs, but when he had a chance to catch Southee at third man, he parried it for a six. Against a team that would turn a six into a catch later. India themselves missed at least four run-out opportunities during the 155-run second-wicket stand. Raina dropped a sitter from Williamson, who scored his third fifty in three matches.

When Williamson eventually fell, in the 33rd over with the score 189, he had set New Zealand up beautifully. This is about the time when New Zealand have been going berserk this series. You can look back at the period harshly, but New Zealand looked to set a target that was India-proof and small-boundaries-proof. Except that this time many of their shots resulted in wickets, the running went awry, and seven wickets fell for 90.

There was no momentum to be carried into the second innings. New Zealand were underwhelming after the 35th over, but they also had that bonus of 25 runs thanks to the drop by Bhuvneshwar. India came with all the momentum, though. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan came out attacking, and took India to 64 in nine overs. That's when Bennett and Anderson intervened. Bennett took an over to warm up, but bowled serious pace and to his field. Anderson was wily with his bouncers and changes of pace. Twenty runs and four wickets, including Kohli's, came in the next nine overs.

The game looked over then, but in a remarkable show of tenacity, for the first time in India's ODI history, their Nos 6, 7 and 8 all scored half-centuries. Dhoni kept India alive with his, Ashwin made them dream, and Jadeja was the man standing.

With Dhoni and Ashwin at least, there was no slogging involved. However, the 55-ball 85-run partnership between Ashwin and Jadeja began to became a serious problem only after the 40th over when New Zealand were forced to go back to Nathan McCullum after having attacked with the quicks for long. He should have had both the batsmen in successive deliveries, but you can't take away from the stylish shots of Ashwin that made New Zealand desperate.

In Nathan McCullum's next, when Ashwin went for a second six, Guptill intercepted it, took it over his shoulder and in the air space beyond the boundary, before leaving the ball, stepping out and coolly coming back to complete the catch. India still needed 46, and Bhuvneshwar was to soon get out to a sharp bouncer from Bennett.

Now it was only Jadeja, who has so often been meek with the bat. So often a helpless part of batting collapses. Grudgingly respected for his bowling and still ridiculed for the mismatch between his three triple-centuries in Ranji Trophy and his ability with the bat. In his redemption, he played calmly, kept pinging the short straight boundary, didn't panic when he saw the asking rate climb when he refused singles. It was still New Zealand's game to lose when the last over began with 18 required.

Anderson had been the hero thus far, and he was given the responsibility of closing out the game after he and Bennett had troubled Jadeja with the bouncers. In this over, though, Jadeja was a step ahead of the game, and set himself back to pull the first one for four. The other tactic had been to cramp Jadeja when he backed away, but to the second delivery Jadeja shrewdly moved back in to earn a wide. With the second and third balls, he couldn't do anything, but didn't give the strike to No. 11 Varun Aaron, who has quite the penchant for ending up in these last-over situations with the bat. It was down to fours required off each of the balls left.

The next ball Jadeja flicked off the rib for four. The difference here was he was expecting the short ball. The next one was even better: a flat six pulled over midwicket. Now with two required, New Zealand needed to cut their losses. They spread the leg-side field, put every one up on the off side, and Anderson bowled outside off. Jadeja failed to beat cover, finished the single comfortably, but for some reason didn't go for the second. The second was not on, but you never know what fielders are liable to do under such pressure situations. Jadeja and Aaron had nothing to lose with the second, but they didn't go for it. It was a difficult night to explain.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on January 26, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    Jadeja should have walked. and why do India insist on no DRS when they play?

  • Android on January 26, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    Well payed India.Finally the tail came to the party.

  • Malcolm on January 25, 2014, 23:08 GMT

    you people need to keep some perspective on all this. It is not real international cricket. Real international cricket is Test cricket. This stuff you are all talking about is just hit and giggle. If the world of test cricket is about to be changed by the so called "big 3" then the Indian nation (along with Australia and England) should be absolutely ashamed of itself. We in the rest of the cricketing world will never forgive you. Ever !

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    I don't understand why India never produce good fast bowlers. The quickest indian fast bowler i ever saw was Anil Kumble. LOL

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    Well played team India. Here on I am sure India will be on top remaining entire series. Today everyone except Kohli & Rahane played their parts. Rohit & Shikhar finally found there golden touch once again. Have anybody watched Rohit's effortless 4 sixes ! Simply superb. It's not bouncy wicket but only lack of luck only affecting Rohit. Since SA every time he is facing 300+ target. And on bowler friendly wickets and against quality pace bowlers Shikhar &Rohit has to go for runs without getting much time to settle down. Today our opening stand was 64 runs in 9 overs. Nice batting by both the openers. All the Rohit & team India

  • uncle bob on January 25, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    Blackholesun: What do you mean by one time performance? Jadeja was great in Champions trophy with the golden ball and also won the most important match in CT which was in similar situation as today. He was second most wicket taker in Indo-AUS series and has been a very effective bowler and outstanding fielder for team India. I think Jaddu needs to be given Number 5 position for him to build his innings before counter attacking.

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 21:03 GMT

    I enjoyed watching ind-nz match today,thanks to brillient jadeja ashvin pair.Though Ashvin bowling could be better,his batting alone should secure his sellection.I hope there are no other fast or seam bowlers are not waiting on bench somewhere like our star batsman PUJARA.I only hope that there is no dirty politics.

  • Jon on January 25, 2014, 20:42 GMT

    Excellent game of cricket for the neutral. I know a lot of guys can't stand India but I must admit whilst sometimes some of the trash talking fans can wind me up, I can't take my eyes off them in ODI cricket. Win or lose they are always entertaining and good to watch. NZ have been playing really good cricket in the ODI series and deservedly lead 2-0. I would like India to win the next game so we can have a grandstand finish in the 5th ODI.

  • Cosmic on January 25, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    Good to see Jadeja contributing today and I hope it is not the one time contributions. In India the scene is like this, you perform in one match and seal your place in playing eleven for next 10-12 matches. After that you again perform in a match and the cycle continues ! That dropped catch by Kumar at 289 cost the Indians the match. There will always be if's and but's, one can easily say had the NZ latched on every catch, India would have lost the series.

    Rohit seems to be back to his olden days, just when you think he is settled, he throws away his wicket. Can't believe that Raina is still in the playing eleven ! But that is the way it happens in India (read first para). Why is Binny not getting a game is beyond my understanding. Shami is a good bowler but he is leaking runs to. He needs to fix that leak soon. Dhawan flat track bully? Yes it seems to be !

    I wonder what will happen if the team keep playing like this? 2015 World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand !

  • avinash on January 25, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Now i can announce my self as genius in cricket and good addict of game of .The cricket.Today morning i said to my brother that jedeja needs to be played at no 4 which crowe said after the match, the reason i said i want jedeja to bat at no 4 because he usually plays at position no 4 for saurastra his home team and he takes time to settle and batting lower the order never gives him a chance to play many balls and lack of partners makes him to force his batting than which comes natural to him .Well today's match one of the greatest i have ever seen in my life like ashes 2005 and 434 chasing. My team would rest shame for 4th odi and play pandey in place of him.My playing with batting order for 4th odi will be Rahane,dhawan,kohli,jedeja,rayudu,dhoni,binny.mishra,buvi,ishwar pandey and aaron.I hope cricinfo will be happy with my views on my truely loved game cricket.