Sehwag stars in abandoned fixture
Having comfortably won a rain-hit match in Napier, India were left frustrated by the elements in Wellington. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar gave them the perfect start, but after three interruptions, the match was abandoned after just 28.4 overs. India lost Sehwag to a poor umpiring decision, but with Tendulkar accelerating rapidly after his departure, they had raced to 130 for 1 from 19 overs when a steady drizzle forced the players off the first time. Sehwag was in breathtaking form once again, pounding out 54 from 35 balls before Evan Watkin declared him out caught behind off the flap of the pad.
India started purposefully, with the ball being hit into the gaps and singles being scampered. Sehwag soon injected even more urgency with two carves through point off Iain O'Brien, the second of which just whizzed past the man stationed there. He enjoyed some good fortune too, as O'Brien misjudged a catch at fine leg after he had top-edged a pull off Kyle Mills. The bowler's sense of anguish deepened as he was then twice clouted over midwicket, before Sehwag ended the over by crashing one through point.
Ian Butler was on as early as the seventh over, but the others continued to struggle. O'Brien was pulled twice, the second one just clearing the rope to bring up the 50 of the innings. By then, Sehwag was struggling with some pain in his left leg, but it didn't prevent him from playing a glorious cover-drive as he raised his half-century in just 32 balls.
India had 65 from the first 10 overs when Suresh Raina arrived as runner, and Daniel Vettori delayed the bowling Powerplay. But once Sehwag departed shaking his head in disbelief, Vettori took it. India had 78 from 13 overs at the time, and the new set of fielding restrictions prompted Tendulkar to unveil his attacking repertoire. Butler had been impeccable until then, but when Mills put down a tough chance high to his right at mid-on, the tenor of the game changed.
Tendulkar walloped the next ball over midwicket for six and followed it with a gorgeously timed cover-drive. Jacob Oram was then lofted over cover and creamed through midwicket as he went from sedate to hectic in the twinkling of an eye. A magnificent off-drive took him to his half-century from 57 balls - at one stage, he had 14 from 37 - as India scored 42 from the Powerplay.
The break suited New Zealand though, with Vettori bringing himself on immediately after the resumption. Though Gautam Gambhir swung him over midwicket for four in his opening over, the breakthrough came soon after. Tendulkar missed a sweep and was trapped in front for 61 (69 balls).
Yuvraj Singh didn't trouble the scorers, deflecting a Mills delivery straight into Ross Taylor's hands at a wide slip. Vettori had placed the man there just two balls earlier, and suddenly things weren't going all India's way.
Rain took the players off again after 24 overs and an over after they returned, India took their three-over batting Powerplay. Gambhir's brisk 30 ended with a loft to deep cover, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Raina struck a few meaty blows to ensure that New Zealand would have a stiff Duckworth-Lewis target to chase down. Unfortunately, the rain didn't stay away.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo