Gambhir leads from the front again

Gautam Gambhir plays one to third man Associated Press

New Zealand's one-day woes continued into a ninth straight game as their batting failed to cope with moist early-morning conditions in Vadodara. Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel swung and seamed the ball all right, but New Zealand will look back at how unremarkable their response was. With the pitch easing out in the afternoon, Gautam Gambhir made the easy chase look ridiculously easy, becoming only the eighth captain to score centuries in back-to-back ODIs.

From the time he won the toss and put New Zealand in, Gambhir hardly put a foot wrong, keeping his perfect captaincy record intact. Modern captains tend to go into the containment mode once the 15th over ends irrespective of how many wickets they might have got.

Gambhir, who had put New Zealand in, was refreshingly old-school. With four wickets down in the first 15 overs, when he saw R Ashwin turn the first ball, he set Test-match fields for Scott Styris and James Franklin. Those attacking fields got him three more quick wickets, but having fallen behind the over-rate, Gambhir omitted to use four of Zaheer and Nehra's overs. Facing part-time spinners on a pitch that had eased out a bit, Franklin and N. McCullum had little trouble building a partnership. It was almost as if Gambhir was not concerned at all by the growing partnership.

The way he turned out with the bat, Gambhir need not have worried either.

After having been at the wrong end of Gambhir's off-side play in Jaipur, New Zealand tried to cramp him up, and found that Gambhir was equally adept at scoring in the on side. He flicked the second ball he faced for a fine boundary. In Kyle Mills' next over, he picked the gap between mid-on and midwicket. In Mills' next Gambhir started making room and went into his favourite off side. He capitalised on the correction on the next delivery, moving to 23 off 11.

Andy McKay soon got the same treatment: wide ball, four; too straight, four; wide again, four. With time Gambhir's favourite chips over extra cover and midwicket came out too. He might have seemed to slow down after reaching his fifty, but he took only 58 further deliveries to get to the hundred.