Pathetic New Zealand – is what I said to myself when the Kiwis innings ended with only 126 runs on the board. Martin Guptill was unlucky to have been the victim of a wrong decision, but it was needless to have a go at Ravichandran Ashwin that way, especially when he had whacked him for a six in the previous ball that was the very first delivery of the innings.
Up came Colin Munro and the way he cleared the rope with a switch hit was breathtaking. One would expect him to make a decent score after that but he soon returned to the pavillion, giving an easy catch to Hardik Pandya. Barring Corey Anderson and a late storm by Luke Ronchi, the other Kiwi batsmen were easily subdued by the Indian bowlers who looked unplayable at times.
To many, it was going to be a stroll around the park for India, who have so many match-winning batsmen in their arsenal. And for a team leaving out the likes of strike bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee, it looked like ‘game over’.
But credit to coach Mike Hesson and skipper Kane Williamson, critics who slammed their decision to play three spinners — Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner — leaving out the deadly fast bowling duo, are now eating their own words. Yeah, that includes me as well.
The trio upstaged arguably the torunament’s strongest batting line-up for a sorry 79 as the Kiwis maintained their cent per cent winning record against the Indians in the shortest format of the game.
Talks of whether this New Zealand team will be able to banish their ‘semifinalist’ tag is premature, but if the trio can continue doing such wonders, on Indian soil they can dream of a great finish. But their top-order also needs to learn to be a little more responsible.
Prior to the match, former World Cup winning India captain Kapil Dev in his column said India had to start with a win. In a group that features the likes of Australia, arch-rivals Pakistan and giant-killers Bangladesh, a loss to New Zealand means more pressure for the hosts. But a team that dreams of the title has to shrug it off and plan for the next game.
Up next is Pakistan, who have never beaten them in a World Cup and Waqar Younis’ team are not having the best of their days.
But on a given day, anyone can beat anyone. New Zeland have just shown that. And today, who know that better than India?