Christchurch: India's batting nightmare continued on Wednesday as the tourists crashed to their lowest ever score against New Zealand in the third One-day International.
India was bundled out for 108 after skipper Saurav Ganguly had elected to bat in the day-night game on a pitch that had bounce and helped a little bit of seam movement. The tourists were shot out in the 42nd over, equalling their lowest total posted in the opening game of the ongoing seven-match series at Auckland. Extras top-scored with 22 in a feeble Indian batting performance. 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 Jacob Oram took 2 for 22 as the Indian batsmen remained clueless against the seam bowling. The seamers were brilliantly backed by wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum, who claimed five victims in his second successive match. India's run-rate was slow even by the Test match standards as it reached just 67 in 25 overs. Worse, it also kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Skipper Stephen Fleming set an attacking field in the beginning with at least three slips and a gully in order to keep pressure. 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 at Napier on Sunday, was never given the freedom to play shots. He made seven before being caught behind off Mills. Ganguly looked woefully out of form as he failed for the seventh successive time, scoring four before edging Tuffey to McCullum. The Indian captain made 29 in his four Test innings and 18 in three One-dayers. Venkatsai Laxman (10) 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 Rahul Dravid (20), Mohammad Kaif (17) and Sanjay Bangar (1) fell cheaply to leave their team tottering at 83 for 6 in the 31st over. 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 then realised that fortune never favours the timid as Yuvraj Singh (12) was run out backing up, courtesy bowler Hitchcock's deflection on to the stumps off a Zaheer Khan straight drive.
Saurav and his men under pressure to perform
'I am very optimistic, boys will perform in WC'