Kohli's disbelief, and Williamson gets going
Williamson gets off the mark
Fifteen days after his debut, Kane Williamson finally got his first international runs. With New Zealand floundering at 22 for 4, he jogged out of the pavilion and did some brisk stretches on his way to the crease. The long-awaited moment came on his third delivery: Williamson guided the ball towards third man for a single and avoided a hat-trick of ducks in his first three innings.
With the game practically decided, Mills was blasting boundaries at will. A four-over spell had yielded 38 runs, after which there was a discussion among the batsmen, umpires and bowlers that stopped play for about ten minutes. Turns out that Mills had told Dhoni that he wanted the batting Powerplay four overs earlier but the umpires weren't aware of it. When Ashish Nehra came on to bowl the 29th over and asked the umpires whether it was the last over of the Powerplay, umpire Asad Rauf said the Powerplay wasn't on. "I was glad to sort it out on the field with MS and Rauf," Mills said. "I was tempted to say I didn't [ask for the Powerplays earlier] but that wouldn't have been in the spirit of the game."
Taking the place of a fellow struggler, Rohit Sharma, at No.3, Virat Kohli needed runs after a lean Asia Cup and two failures in the tri-series. He began brightly but, as so many batsmen have done this series, edged one to the keeper. New Zealand made a strident appeal, the umpire raised his finger, but Kohli couldn't believe he was out. He hadn't looked back at the keeper after nicking it, and he just stood and stared after the decision. After an interminable wait at the crease, and a few words under his breath, he started a slow, dejected walk to the pavilion. New Zealand had finished celebrating and their 12th man had brought the team drinks by the time Kohli had made his way past the non-striker.
"We just have to be careful not to fish at the ball. Rather we will have to just leave, or play a shot," MS Dhoni said on the eve of the match. Three balls into the game, Dinesh Karthik fished at one outside off, feathering to the wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins, to fall for a duck. So much for heeding the captain's advice.
India's innings was winding down after Virender Sehwag and Dhoni were dismissed. With only the tailenders around, Praveen Kumar started swinging his bat in his usual carefree manner. One flat-batted hit raced down the ground for four, but the next was a top-edge which swirled towards Kyle Mills at mid-on. Mills had plenty of time to position himself under the ball, too much perhaps. Once in place, he decided to take the skier with his palms facing outwards, then switched to the more traditional cupped-palm technique before finally pouching it in the Australian style.
It was still anybody's game at the halfway stage, but it wasn't once the Indian seamers got through their searing first spells. It began in Praveen's first over: with the second ball he had Martin Guptill dead in front and sent him on his way with a verbal volley, then an outswinger flew off Ross Taylor's pad to first slip, where the fielder missed the ball and earned a stare from the bowler. Two deliveries later, BJ Watling gently patted the ball back to Praveen, and even that prompted a withering glare at the batsman.
Averting a record low
When New Zealand sunk to 53 for 8, attention immediately switched to whether they would be bowled out for their lowest one-day total in history. The mark to beat was 64 against Pakistan in Sharjah in 1986. Mills ensured an unwanted record wasn't made by slugging three successive fours off Ishant Sharma.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo