India romped home with a much-needed victory to level the three-match series 1-1 after being beaten comprehensively in the series opener at Wankhede. They won the decisive encounter at Pune by six wickets and were outstanding in all the three departments. Their bowlers were not up to the mark in Mumbai and paid the price for it as Ross Taylor and Tom Latham stitched a match-winning partnership to see the side home.

After all the controversy regarding the curator of Pune wicket, the match started as per the schedule and there was no change in it. This was a do-or-die game for India and needed to come out hard in order to emerge victorious. India made one change to their side with Kuldeep Yadav making a place for Akshar Patel while New Zealand didn’t disturb their winning combination.

New Zealand opted to bat first as the surface looked conducive for batting. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the spine of India’s bowling attack and his evolution has been irresistible. Not just with the ball, but Bhuvneshwar has also pulled his game up with the bat. Bhuvneshwar has a knack of chipping early wickets, but his failure to do so in the first game cost India dearly. He bowled 10 overs for 56 with just a solitary wicket to his name in Mumbai. He is the leader of this pace attack and India needed him to step up in order to put New Zealand on the back foot right from the outset at Pune.

Martin Guptill and Colin Munro started off well and looked to attack. In fact, Munro went down the track and smashed Bhuvneshwar for a six straight down the ground, a sight not very pleasing for a fast bowler. But, Kumar wasn’t bogged down and bounced back with the key wicket of Guptill. He got the ball in that corridor of uncertainty as Guptill edged one straight to MS Dhoni.

New Zealand were playing some attacking cricket, but this dismissal changed the way things were going on for New Zealand. They went defensive and both the new ball bowlers did extremely well in maintaining the pressure. Moments later, Jasprit Bumrah got rid of Kane Williamson and put New Zealand in hot water. Colin Munro was trying to battle it out, but Kumar got rid of him with a knuckleball, which he inside-edged on to his pads and then onto his stumps.

Bhuvneshwar was accurate with his line and length and bowled with much more confidence than the previous match. At 27 for 3, New Zealand’s hopes of getting a massive total took a beating. They had to reassess their strategy while Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah kept the pressure on with some disciplined bowling.

Once again the onus of bailing the team out came on Tom Latham and Ross Taylor. They were the men in form and New Zealand wanted these two to fire. The duo took their time and got a steady start, but Hardik Pandya broke the partnership with the dismissal of Taylor. Indian bowlers were astute enough to rectify their mistakes and not repeat it at Pune.

Before Pandya getting a breakthrough, Virat Kohli made a smart move by introducing Kedar Jadhav early into the attack. At Mumbai, Kedar didn’t bowl. He has a knack of getting big fishes with his wily spin bowling. In the past, he has often provided the breakthroughs when wickets were difficult to come. Off late, Kedar has started to bowl with a slingy action, which denies the batsmen enough bounce and the ball often stays low.

Kedar bowled good line and length and maintained the pressure built by the seam bowlers. Low bounce didn’t allow the New Zealand batsmen to sweep easily. Latham swept a lot of deliveries to tackle spin in the previous match, which turned out to be productive. Indian bowlers bowled a lot of deliveries on the stump line, which turned out to be comfortable for the southpaw to execute the sweep. But in this game, they pitched the deliveries outside off and it worked.

After bowling left-arm over the wicket for a while, Akshar went around the wicket to Latham. The southpaw missed this one while attempting a sweep and the ball ended up kissing the middle timber. They built the pressure and reaped fruitful results for it.

Henry Nicholls got a good start and looked set for a big score, but Bhuvneshwar ended his run with a beauty. Bhuvneshwar cleaned him up with a length delivery, which moved slightly into him. Yuzvendra Chahal got rid of Colin de Grandhomme with his guile while Adam Milne was outfoxed by the leggie on the very first delivery.


Overall, it was a collective effort by the Indian bowlers after being dominated in the previous encounter. Bhuvneshwar shone when India needed him the most and led the pace attack well. The momentum is now with India as the Kanpur ODI is a virtual final and the winner takes it all. This outing by the Indian bowlers will give them the push for the next game

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