| J.P. Yadav on way to his 69 in Bulawayo
Bulawayo: An abject batting surrender, save Jai Prakash Yadav and Irfan Pathan, underlined India’s continuing downslide as they lost to New Zealand by 51 runs in their opening match of the Videocon Cup tri-series here Friday.
After the bowlers did reasonably well to restrict the Black Caps to 215 all out, the Indian top and middle-order batsmen put up a pathetic batting show to be dismissed for 164 with fiery speedster Shane Bond (six for 19) doing the bulk of the damage.
The Indians were in danger of crashing to their lowest ever one-day total at one stage when they were reeling at 44 for eight but Yadav (69) and Pathan (50) saved them the blushes by providing a semblance of respectability to the total with a 118-run ninth wicket partnership.
Sourav Ganguly and his men appeared totally clueless as Bond produced a devastating opening spell to leave the Indian batting in total disarray in what turned out to be lopsided contest at the Queen’s Sports Club ground.
Yadav and Pathan ensured the defeat margin was not bigger with their 118-run ninth wicket stand from 144 balls.
It was remarkable for India to come thus far as at one stage they were in real danger of finishing less than their worst-ever score of 54 in one-day Internationals.
From the Indian perspective, no praise can be too high for the ninth wicket pair who defied and even dominated the New Zealand attack in the middle overs before Bond came back to remove Pathan and in the next over Yadav hoiked one to mid-off.
Yadav, who had played only two ODIs so far, way back in 2002 against the West Indies at home, scored a creditable 69 from 92 balls with 11 fours and one six while Pathan made 50 from 61 balls with three fours and a six.
Early Indian batsmen surrendered the advantage which their bowlers had seized so magnificently bowling. The cool conditions encouraged swing bowling and Pathan and Ashish Nehra made full use of it.
It all began in Bond’s second over when captain Sourav Ganguly (5) and Y. Venugopal Rao (0) were hustled out off successive deliveries and from there on, it was only a speedy downhill for the Indians.
Sourav survived the first torrid over from Bond with most of the balls bouncing dangerously around his face but in the second an involuntarily defensive jab on the onside was gloved to the wicketkeeper.
Rao, batting for only the second time in his career, was a wrong choice to weather the storm and a straight yorker found its target with the precision of a missile.
Rahul Dravid (5) became Bond’s next victim when he shaped a cut and under-edged on to his stumps. Yuvraj Singh followed him from the other end when he flirted with an outswinger from Andre Adams into second slip leaving India reeling at 19 for 4 in the seventh over.
Virender Sehwag and Mohammed Kaif offered a brief hope of revival before Bond again made his presence felt.
Earlier, New Zealand recovered from a horrendous start to post 215. They were once 36 for five in the 13th over before Jacob Oram (36), Craig McMillan (54) and Brendon McCullum (49) brought back sanity to the innings.
Pathan (3 for 34) and nehra (2 for 22) got the ball to swing a great deal and wickets fell in a flurry. The first hour had done the damage but conditions were bound to get in favour of batsmen and so it did as Oram (36) and McMillan (54) put on 91 runs for the sixth wicket from 100 balls.
Both had a lucky reprieve along the way, first when Yuvraj dropped McMillan backward of square leg off Harbhajan on 20 and later Oram was put down by Yadav at cover with Harbhajan again at the receiving end.
Only when the two batsmen seemed intent on making light of the disastrous start with some audacious strokes, luck intervened on India’s behalf.