India win a thriller to clinch ODI series

Published: Wednesday, December 10, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:Indian eves held on their nerves to beat World Champions New Zealand by 5 runs in a nail biting finish at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday. With this win, the hosts have clinched the five match One-day International (ODI) series 3-0.

After being forced to bat first on a green top, India made 211 for four in their stipulated 50 overs, thanks to a scintillating half-century by vice-captain Mithali Raj. Jaya Sharma and Anjum Chopra who contributed 43 and 46 respectively ably supported her. In reply the White Ferns could muster only 206 for the loss of seven wickets despite half-centuries from vice-captain Haidee Tiffen and opener Maria Fahey.

Earlier, the Kiwi skipper Maia Lewis' decision to field first backfired as the Indian openers Anju Jain and Jaya Sharma scored runs at a fast pace. They put on 82 runs for the first wicket before Jaya Sharma, who starred in the teams first two victories hold out to substitute fielder Browne. Anju Jain soon followed suit. Then came the most crucial partnership of the match as Mithali Raj put 107 runs for the third wicket with Anjum Chopra that laid foundation for a decent total.

Mithali, the world record holder for maximum runs in a Test match, made a well compiled 59 off 68 deliveries laced with five hits to the fence. Anjum Chopra too steadied the innings at the other end before running herself out in a frantic bid to force the pace of the innings. Though she didn't have anything to show in the wickets column, Kiwi bowler Rebecca Steele had respectable figures of none for seventeen from her allotted quota as she kept troubling the Indian eves with her nagging length and line.

In reply, the Kiwis got off to a flying start with the openers putting up 65 runs before being separated. Opener Maria Fahey made a laborious 52 off 95 runs. Indians kept putting the pressure on the opposition by taking wickets at regular intervals. For the hosts, Neetu David was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 10-4-21-2.

The match which was firmly in India's favour took a decisive turn when the Kiwis rattled up 17 runs in the 46th over, including the first six of the match of a dropped catch. However, Indians held their nerves with some tight fielding and excellent bowling to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat in front of a vociferous home crowd that had thronged in large numbers.

The victorious captain Mamatha Maben who herself was a livewire on the field was however not happy with the overall fielding standards of the team, though giving full credit to her bowlers, especially Neetu David for keeping things cool. Her Kiwi counterpart Maia Lewis was gracious in defeat.

The Eve of the Match honour went to Indian vice-captain Mithali Raj, while her Kiwi counterpart Haidee Tiffen won the Best Batswoman of the day for her swashbuckling fifty. Neetu David was rewarded for her excellent spell with the Best Bowler of the day award. The two teams now move on to Hyderabad to play the fourth match of the series scheduled for Saturday.

Brief Scores:

India 211 for 4 in 50 overs (Mithali Raj 59, Anjum Chopra 46, Jaya Sharma 43, Milliken 1-45) beat New Zealand 206 for 7 in 50 overs (H Tiffen 56, Maria Fahey 52, Deepa Kulkarni 3-37, Neetu David 2-21) by 5 runs.

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