India excelled during the final session of each innings at Gwalior on Thursday and earned a 14-run verdict against New Zealand. That took the home team to a 2-1 lead in this five-match One-Day International Series. Sourav Ganguly recorded his ninth ODI hundred and got the "Man of the Match" award.
India chose to bat first. Sachin Tendulkar would have been unhappy with the way in which things went for India. On a pitch where the ball came a bit slow, the batsmen found it difficult to maintain an attractive run-rate; India was thus seen on a dull platform. The score read 142 for five in 38 overs. But Ganguly, the opener, seemed to be on a mission today.
At that juncture, the stylish Ganguly found an ideal partner in another left hander Robin Singh. The two changed the complexion of the game through some exhilarating hitting that produced 119 runs in the last 12 overs. The innovative methods of these two batsmen subdued the New Zealand attack that looked very impressive till this pair joined together. Ganguly and Robin Singh returned from their unconquered association (119 runs) to a standing ovation. They had done a stupendous job by taking India to a total (261 for five in 50) that must have certainly inspired the India bowlers.
Ganguly's exceptionally brilliant 153 not out came off 150 balls and contained 18 fours and three sixes. At Hyderabad, in the second match of this series, skipper Tendulkar batted throughout the innings. And here Ganguly had done it.
That must augur well for India that would be leaving for Australia later this month on a long tour (Nov to Feb). Today Robin Singh played a commendable role in a manner born. In that hectic stand with Ganguly his contribution was 45 not out off 34 balls (1x4, 3x6). That should speak for Singh's thorough understanding of his role.
New Zealand began on a grand note. Its openers Craig Spearman and Nathan Astle put on 99 runs in 21 overs. But once India got rid of Spearman (at 99), Adam Parore (at 113) and a spirited challenger in Astle at 170 (36.3 overs), New Zealand wore the looks of a desperate side. Astle (97, 111 balls, 8x4, 1x6) really appeared set to take his side to the desired destination. But he was castled by Anil Kumble.