Cuttack: New Zealand beat India by four wickets in the triangular One-day International cricket series match at the Barabati stadium on Thursday. The win meant India and New Zealand were tied on nine points from four matches each behind Australia who have 18. Three more matches remain in the round-robin league with the three teams playing each other once. Chasing a competitive target 247 for victory, the Kiwis found themselves on the mat to give the hosts an early control of the game but Scot Styris and Craig McMillan showed remarkable resilience to steer the team to victory with 2.3 overs to spare.
After leaving the visitors gasping at 68 for four at one stage, the Indians had themselves to blame for letting the Kiwis fly out of the nest under the Barabati stadium floodlights as they ran out of steam when it mattered most on a slow track. New Zealand, who desperately needed a win to keep themselves afloat in the series, have caught up India on the points table with both the teams having garnered nine points from four outings so far. Australia, the third team in the fray, have already romped into the final with 18 points from four matches.
The majestic clock tower at the far end of the picturesque Barabati stadium, hosting its first-ever floodlight encounter, stood witness to the Indian debacle as McMillan (82 not out) and Styris (68) led the spirited Kiwis fightback with a 127-run fifth wicket association to tame the hosts in their own den. Fleming said there were still a few areas for the Kiwis to improve. "We have to better our top order batting and not put much pressure on the lower order." Man of the match Scott Styris, who claimed threefor 38 with the ball and then scored an important 68, said the Barabati track suited his style of play.
"The wicket suited me and I am pleased with the way I bowled. It is fantastic that we won this because it was a must win game for us," he said.Styris said the slow start he and McMillan had during the 127-run fifth wicket partnership was not deliberate. "We struggled to adjust to the bounce in the beginning. But later it started skidding and we also saw that the spinners were struggling to get proper hold (on the ball)," he said. The final is schedule for Nov 18 in Kolkata. Brief scores: India 246 for 9 in 50 overs (Mohammad Kaif 64, Hemang Badani 41, Zaheer Khan 33 no; Daryl Tuffey 3-31, Scott Styris 3-38) lost to New Zealand 249 for 6 in 47.3 overs (Styris 68, Craig McMillan 82).