Jadeja’s heroics

Ravindra Jadeja dives to make his ground during his match-saving knock.-PICS: AP

India pulled off a sensational tie, thanks to Ravindra Jadeja’s blitzkrieg. S. Dinakar reports.

The pulsating finish produced a tie. It had been a furiously fought contest. It had also been a game of errors. The bowling was often erratic and catches were put down. In the end, though, a colourful crowd of 28,000 had its fill.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a relieved man. “We could have lost, then we had chances to win, but a tie is an important result for us,” he said.

For a side 0-2 down in the five-match series, stopping the run of defeats was critical. That India pulled off a jail-break of sorts must have also lifted the confidence levels of the side.

At the end of it all, Ravindra Jadeja stood tall. India had required 18 runs off the final over from Corey Anderson with just one wicket remaining.

Jadeja lived up to the tag ‘Rockstar’ that Shane Warne had given him.

R. Ashwin came good with the bat. His half century proved quite valuable in the end.-

A rousing six and two boundaries were struck by the southpaw amid all that pressure. Anderson sent two wides and it boiled down to two runs off the last delivery.

The inspired Jadeja and last man Varun Aaron ran a hectic single. The game had concluded with both sides level on 314.

Jadeja left the arena to a rousing reception. His 45-ball unbeaten 66 was a spectacular effort.

R. Ashwin and Jadeja joined forces when India was staring down the barrel at 184 for six. The right-left pair tore into the Kiwi attack.

Promoted to No. 7, the solid Ashwin (65) struck the ball with authority. Jadeja pulled off some big drives.

The match turned on its head. The Kiwis, under stress, made some errors on the field; a couple of chances were not taken.

Martin Guptill celebrates after his century.-

Yet, the duel had moments of brilliance. Martin Guptill’s catch to dismiss Ashwin at the mid-wicket fence was sensational in the manner he retained his balance to avoid the ropes.

Jadeja, though, had the final say. The Indian supporters celebrated as if this was a victory.

There was drama aplenty under the lights. Anderson’s smart left-arm pace fetched him five wickets.

And comeback man Hamish Bennett bowled with verve and fire on a surface that had pace and consistent bounce which also gave the batsmen an equal opportunity to strike the ball.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni battled for a half-century that kept India afloat. There were twists and turns all the way.

In the New Zealand innings — Dhoni once again elected to field — Martin Guptill sparkled with a stroke-filled 111. The right-handed opener struck the ball off either foot, pierced the gaps, and used the lofted shots at opportune moments.

Kane Williams, a right-hander with the right attributes, made a polished 65 but the Kiwis lost their way in the middle with some reckless strokeplay before cameos from Luke Ronchi and Tim Southee took the total beyond 300.

The Indian pace pack, with the exception of the disciplined Bhuvneshwar Kumar, was disappointing.

Mohammed Shami bowled the wrong length on this surface — he needed to bowl three-quarters — and was taken to the cleaners. He had been impressive earlier in the series but this was a day when Shami’s yorkers misfired.

Varun Aaron, replacing Ishant Sharma, bowled at a brisk pace but, like Shami, tended to pitch too short.

In fact, Ashwin and Jadeja bowled well on a surface not assisting spin. Both bowled a tad quicker, not allowing the batsmen to get under the ball for the big hits on a small ground.

When Ashwin went round the wicket to bowl left-handed danger-man Anderson, he had ended a frustrating wicket-less spell in ODIs. As the night wore on, Ashwin and Man of the Match Jadeja would play vital roles with the willow.

Despite not winning, New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum was pleased with the manner the Kiwis were playing this summer. “I think we are obviously proud of the way we are playing at the moment and the characteristics that we are showing in some of the cricket we are playing are very good. There are the expectations we have of ourselves, We don’t always live up to them. We are starting to see a team that is growing in confidence.”

Asked about the caught behind shout against Jadeja in those tense moments when the Indian appeared to have got an edge, McCullum said, “We were confident that he nicked it but that’s the game, isn’t it? Sometimes you don’t get the rub of the green as well, you just got to live with it.

We had other opportunities which we let slip through the fingers. Would have been great if it was given out, would have made the job a lot easier at the end there but it is part and parcel of the game.”

THE SCORES

Third ODI, Auckland, January 25, 2014. Match tied.

New Zealand: M. Guptill c Rahane b Jadeja 111; J. Ryder b Kumar 20; K. Williamson b Shami 65; C. Anderson b Ashwin 8; R. Taylor (run out) 17; B. McCullum c Ashwin b Aaron 0; L. Ronchi c Rahane b Jadeja 38; N. McCullum (run out) 1; T. Southee (run out) 27; M. McClenaghan c Jadeja b Shami 3; H. Bennett (not out) 3; Extras: (lb-10, w-11) 21; Total (in 50 overs) 314.

Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-189, 3-198, 4-224, 5-230, 6-270, 7-280, 8-280, 9-288.

India bowling: Kumar 9-0-48-1, Shami 10-0-84-2, Aaron 7-0-52-1, Jadeja 10-0-47-2, Ashwin 10-0-47-1, Raina 4-0-26-0.

India: S. Dhawan c Guptill b Anderson 28; R. Sharma c Bennett b Anderson 39; V. Kohli c Ronchi b Bennett 6; A. Rahane c Ronchi b Anderson 3; S. Raina c Ronchi b Southee 31; M. Dhonic Southee b Anderson 50; R. Ashwin c Guptill b N. McCullum 65; R. Jadeja (not out) 66; B. Kumar c N. McCullum b Bennett 4; M. Shami c Williamson b Anderson 2; V. Aaron (not out) 2; Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-14) 18; Total (for nine wkts., in 50 overs) 314.

Fall of wickets: 1-64, 2-72, 3-74, 4-79, 5-146, 6-184, 7-269, 8-275, 9-286.

New Zealand bowling: Southee 10-0-74-1, McClenaghan 10-0-76-0, Bennett 10-2-41-2, Anderson 10-1-63-5, Williamson 2-0-17-0, N. McCullum 8-0-39-1.