Vettori, the toast

It was Daniel Vettori’s day at the Wanderers. The New Zealand spinner, who picked up four wickets against India, was at his menacing best. Nandita Sridhar reports.

Daniel Vettori threw all pre-tournament predictions aside in his four overs. Almost everyone had foreseen the role of bowling machines for the bowlers, particularly, for the spinners. At the Wanderers, against some of the traditionally better players of spin, Vettori produced a spell of class, variety and deception, plugging every chance of run-scoring.

Robin Uthappa succumbed to misjudgement, and drove a delivery that was released from round the wicket. As most bowlers do, the New Zealand captain latched on to the catch with ease.

Gautam Gambhir’s dismissal was because of a classic switch in pace. Knowing well that Gambhir was coming down, Vettori quickly sent in a slower one and made the Indian opener to miscue a pull which Brendon McCullum took with glee. The one that got the wicket of Irfan Pathan was a quicker one. Dinesh Karthik’s dismissal was the only consequence of a slog attempt.

“I think some of the shots they played to me didn’t suggest that they showed me too much respect! They were playing Twenty20 cricket, trying to score as quickly and as often as they could. I was just varying my pace which is my forte. I managed to work out the batsmen and get on top of them from there.

“I didn’t feel at any stage like they were trying to respect my bowling and get runs from the other end. Just felt like a continual assault the whole way. The wicket suited me. It didn’t turn a lot but it sat on the wicket, which is difficult for batsmen who like a little bit of pace.

“I maximised the nature of the wicket and realised that it was going to suit me. The people are learning that the more you take wickets, the more chances you have. If you sit back and be defensive, it is going to hurt you," said Vettori.

The Indians had earlier failed to sustain pressure through 20 overs, both against Pakistan and New Zealand. They improved drastically in the remaining matches, but let the Kiwis get away after they were 91 for five.

Ultimately New Zealand made 190 thanks to some loose death-overs bowling. R. P. Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan bowled magnificently. Harbhajan sent in a brilliant spell. His dismissal of Fulton was the most satisfying effort.

Ajit Agarkar usually operates by giving away runs in search of wickets and is not ideally suited for this format. He had accepted that things would be hard for the bowlers before the tournament, and allowed runs to flow alarmingly in every match.

“Our death-overs bowling was the problem,” said Indian captain M. S. Dhoni after the match. But India’s problems in the match went beyond that.

The right bowlers weren’t picked and the batsmen had failed to capitalise on the good start provided by Virender Sehwag and Gambhir. Finishing troubles cost India its first super-eight match.

Vettori made a good point after the match, on momentum. “It came down to good cricket. Jacob Oram and Craig McMillan realised the situation and targeted a couple of bowlers and they got the momentum going. And then we finished particularly well. When you take that momentum into your bowling innings, you have a chance. In Twenty20, things become reasonably monotonous quite quickly to the batsman.”