The Kiwis flew majestically in Guwahati to square the five-match ODI Series against India 2-2 on Sunday. The fifth and final game in New Delhi on Nov 17 has thus gained in status. Unleashing three terrific blows early in the innings, New Zealand piled on pressure to send the home team reeling to a 48-run defeat. Losing Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid cheaply had a terrible impact on the India batting line-up.
This has been the psychological impact the home team often suffers in the One-Day International. Messing up a victory target of 237 in this fashion would only bring more critics to Indian cricket. "You win some; you lose some" philosophy would not sell in this context. For you have lost this Guwahati game without showing any semblance of a recovery act. Moreover the target looked achievable considering the strength of the batting line-up.
This type of defeats would only give India the "paper tigers" image. Tendulkar and Ganguly fell to Chris Drum and Dravid to Chris Cairns. The total read 27 for 3 in 6.2 overs. With so many overs left and some good batsmen to come, there was enough scope for India to take these three blows in its stride. But that did not happen. No doubt, Ajay Jadeja and Vijay Bharadwaj (27 each) fought a grim battle but both fell in successive overs (23rd and 24th).
Robin Singh, known for his gritty approach work followed them three runs later (88 for six in 25.4 overs). At that juncture there was hardly any doubt over the outcome of this match. Sunil Joshi, a left hander, turned out to be the bravest India batsman of the day. Coming in at 88 for 6 he stayed there till the end (61 not out, 55 balls, 2x4, 3x6). Joshi's bold methods went in vain for want of a man to play the supporting role.