India still searching for answers as Kiwis go 3-0 up

Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2003, 20:03 [IST]
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Christchurch: Nathan Astle smashed 22 in an over during his attractive cameo as New Zealand thrashed India by five wickets in the third One-day International at the Jade Stadium here on Wednesday. The aggressive opener hit paceman Javagal Srinath for five fours, including four in a row, in his 30-ball 32 to help his team surpass India's modest total of 108 in the day-night game. New Zealand won with more than 23 overs to spare for a 3-0 lead in the seven-match series, with Astle emerging top-scorer of the match. Astle's one-over onslaught put tremendous pressure on India, which had earlier crashed to its lowest-ever total against New Zealand for the second time in a week. The tourists were shot out for the same score in the opening match at Auckland last week. Extras top-scored with 22 in a spineless Indian batting show on a pitch that had bounce and helped seam movement. Only Rahul Dravid (20), Mohammad Kaif (17), Yuvraj Singh (12) and Venkatsai Laxman (10) reached double-figures. Astle's brief flourish ensured that New Zealand did not face much difficulty in chasing a small target despite the dismissals of skipper Stephen Fleming and Mathew Sinclair in a space of seven deliveries. He tried a big shot off Srinath but could not time it properly and was caught by skipper Saurav Ganguly, who judged the skier well at mid-off. Jacob Oram finished the match when he steered seamer Ajit Agarkar for the winning boundary. Nothing went right for India after Ganguly had elected to bat as its batsmen remained out of form and clueless against a disciplined seam attack. Man-of-the-match Daryl Tuffey stood out among the seamers as he grabbed 2 for 11 off 10 overs to return the most economical figures by a New Zealander against India after Ewen Chatfield's 10-5-13-0 at Adelaide in 1985-86. Paul Hitchcock finished with a career-best 3 for 30, while Oram took 2 for 22 to remind India that something was seriously wrong with its batting. The seamers were brilliantly backed by wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum, who claimed five victims in his second successive match. Fleming equalled Chris Harris' record of most catches by a New Zealand fielder in One-dayers when he dismissed Srinath for his 87th victim to end the Indian innings. India's run-rate was slow even by Test match standards as it reached 67 in 25 overs. Worse, it kept losing wickets at regular intervals. With runs hard to come by, the pressure kept mounting on the Indian batsmen who yet again showed they had not adjusted themselves to the conditions even after spending nearly a month in this country. Opener Virender Sehwag, who slammed an impressive 108 in the previous match, was never given the freedom to play shots. He made seven before being caught behind off Mills. Ganguly looked woefully out of touch as he failed for the seventh successive time, scoring four before edging Tuffey to McCullum. He has made 29 in his four Test innings and 18 in three One-dayers. Laxman survived a confident caught-behind appeal when on two in Oram's opening over before falling to a dubious decision. He was given caught behind by Sri Lankan umpire Asoka de Silva even though the ball did not appear to have hit the bat. The procession continued as Dravid, Kaif and Sanjay Bangar fell in quick succession to leave their team tottering at 83 for 6. Dravid, unable to score freely, lost his wicket in sheer frustration as he mistimed a pull off Hitchcock for Daniel Vettori to take a superb head-high catch at mid-on. India realised that fortune never favours the timid as Yuvraj was run out backing up, courtesy bowler Hitchcock's deflection on to the stumps off a Zaheer Khan straight drive.

Scorecard of Match 3
Saurav and his men under pressure to perform
'I am very optimistic, boys will perform in WC'
Astle falls back on dream-knock for motivation

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