New Delhi: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's role as a finisher again came under scanner as New Zealand pipped India by six runs in a thrilling second ODI encounter in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Black Caps levelled the five-match series 1-1 and in the process also won their first game of the tour. India were all-out for 236 in 49.3 overs chasing a target of 243. It is also after 11 long years that India have lost an ODI at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Hardik Pandya (36) and Umesh Yadav (18) had tried their best with a 49-run stand for the ninth wicket but Pandya’s dismissal in the penultimate over ended India's hopes with Southee cleaning up Jasprit Bumrah (0) in the final over with a perfect yorker.
But the match again raised question mark about ‘Captain Cool’s ability to win matches even when there wasn’t too much pressure of the scoreboard.
The target was not a big one and the juncture at which Dhoni walked in gave him ample time to play himself into the game. He ran well but also at times got stuck with Mitchell Santner drying up the runs.
Keeping a cover and an extra cover, Santner flighted it outside the off-stump and the Indian skipper found it difficult to get going.
There were only three boundaries in his 39 off 65 balls, but what was striking was his inability to generate power in his shots most of the times. He played as many as 37 dot balls.
The only standout shot was a short-arm pull off Henry. He failed to attack both Santner and Anton Devcich.
Henry ended Dhoni’s misery with a stunning one-handed return catch when the Indian skipper failed to read a slower one. But it was a more a case of the increasing pressure on him.
He added 66 for the fifth wicket with Kedar Jadhav (41). But it was Kedar, who looked like a dominant partner hitting couple of sixes off Santner.
First was a half-tracker that was pulled into the mid-wicket stands and the second was an inside out shot over extra covers. He also ran well between the wickets with his skipper converting the ones into twos.
Just when he was looking good for a half-century, Kedar tried to steer a fuller delivery from Henry to be caught behind as India were in a spot at 139 for five.
What was weird was Dhoni’s decision to play second fiddle to both Kedar and then Axar Patel (17) as he let the game drift with the dot balls adding to the pressure.
Dhoni’s dismissal did increase pressure as Axar and Amit Mishra (1) were dismissed by part-time off-breaks from Martin Guptill.
Starting the chase, Rohit Sharma (15), who was in considerable pain after his dismissal, having done some damage to his biceps along with Virat Kohli (9), Ajinkya Rahane (28) and Manish Pandey (19) didn’t score too many as India were reduced to 73 for 4 within 20th over.
Earlier, Kane Williamson was in his element, hitting a classy hundred but New Zealand lost momentum during the slog overs to end up scoring 242 for 9 against India after being put into bat.
Williamson, who has had an indifferent tour so far, struck a fluent 118 off 128 balls with 14 boundaries and a six. However save opener Tom Latham (46), none of the other batsmen could provide considerable support.
The last 15 overs of the innings yielded only 66 runs for the Black Caps.
While Amit Mishra (3/60 in 10 overs) picked up important wicket of Williamson, it was Jasprit Bumrah (3/35 in 10 overs) whose bowling was a revelation during death overs. He made a technically-equipped Williamson crawl with a toe-crushing yorker and another unplayable delivery in the blockhole got found Tim Southee failing to get his bat down.
In all, Bumrah bowled an astounding 37 dot balls in his 10 overs while the entire team bowled 161 in all which is equivalent to 26.5 overs without scoring.
Umesh Yadav (1/42) started with a perfect delivery that pitched on the middle and no one can blame Martin Guptill (0) as he tried to reach to the line of the delivery. It moved a shade knocking the off-stump back.
However Williamson looked confident from the outset as he was timed his shots to perfection. He had an able ally in Latham as they put on 120 runs for the second wicket in 20 overs at a fair clip.
Williamson started by whipping Yadav to mid-wicket followed by a cover drive and a flick off Pandya. Williamson pulled a short ball from Bumrah and a deliberate slash over slips to collect a couple of more boundaries.
When Axar Patel was introduced into the attack, his short ball was promptly dispatched to the mid-wicket boundary and then the skipper came down the track to loft him over long-on. To add insult to the injury, he used the pace of the next delivery to guide it past gully for a boundary.
At 46, Pandya dropped a low catch off Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling and then he swept Mishra to complete his half-century with a boundary.
Left hander Latham was more partial to cover drives while he slog swept Mishra for a big six.
It was Kedar Jadhav, who bowled one full and Latham missed the line to be adjudged leg before. His run-a-ball 46 comprised six boundaries and a six.
Williamson continued to bat confidently as he hooked Pandya to enter into the 80s. He swept Mishra to reach 96 followed by a couple of singles to reach 98. A cover drive off Bumrah fetched him two runs as his eighth ODI ton was completed in 109 balls. This was also his first ODI hundred against India.