4th ODI: New Zealand beat India by 19 runs to draw level

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New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made a surprising decision to field first after winning the toss but his bowlers proved him right as they stepped up in a must win contest in Ranchi to beat India by 19 runs and draw level at 2-2. Chasing 261, India were bowled out for 241 in 48.4 overs meaning the fifth and final ODI in Vizag will be the decider.
Wickets in the middle overs heavily dented India’s chances as they lost wickets against the run of play at crucial junctures. After Rohit Sharma fell early for 11, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli joined forces to steer the chase forward. The duo had settled well with Rahane looked in good nick. He larruped Trent Boult for a four and a six in an over and then struck two more fours off Tim Southee in three deliveries later on. Kohli was solid and inching towards yet another fifty after two fours and a six when he fell to an ordinary delivery from Ish Sodhi, caught by the keeper while attempting a cut for 45. That partnership was worth 78 runs.
His departure was followed by a roaring welcome from the crowd to local boy MS Dhoni who was fresh after a match winning fifty in the third ODI. But it was Rahane who was making all the right noises, hitting a timely half-century, punishing a poor short delivery from left arm spinner Anton Devcich for a four to reach the milestone.
At 126/2 in 23 overs, with a well set Rahane and Dhoni in the middle, India must have fancied their chances of closing out the series in Ranchi. James Neesham had other plans.
He failed to get going with the bat but more than made up for it with two deadly strikes from which India failed to recover. His first victim was Rahane, trapped in front for 57. His next left the crowd stunned as he let one slip through the gates of Dhoni, cleaning him up for 11 and suddenly India were in a spot of bother at 135/4.
Martin Guptill scored a half-century but late strikes restricted New Zealand to 260/7 after they opted to bat in the fourth ODI of the five-match series in Ranchi on Wednesday. Needing a win to keep the series alive, which they currently trail 1-2, New Zealand began on the front foot winning the toss for the first time on the tour. And a strong opening stand set the ball rolling but for the squeeze the spinners applied in the middle overs, the visitors couldn’t capitalize on it and were prevented from posting a challenging total on a pitch where a total in excess of 300 looked a real possibility at one stage.
Captain Kane Williamson stuck to his guns, opting to bat first against the trend and must have received a pat on his back as a little edgy Guptill and sublime Tom Latham began the proceedings on a solid footing. Guptill was his usual self – edgy but aggressive and Latham relying on pure timing. The combination worked pretty well for the visitors, they collected 80 runs from the first 10 overs.
Guptill, given yet another opportunity to make amends, had a lucky day as he survived two dropped catches to score 72 from 84 deliveries. His 12 boundaries – some exceptional strokes and a few streaky ones helped him shrug off the poor form that saw him scoring a combined 39 runs from the first three ODIs of the series. Together with Latham, he didn’t allow Umesh Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni who replaced an unfit Jasprit Bumrah any early success. In fact, Kulkarni was expensive in his first spell, leaking 37 runs from his four overs. While Guptill went after the bowlers, Latham refrained from being flashy, relying on pure timing and playing the ball on the merit. But the introduction of spinners halted the run flow. Between over no 11 and 15, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra allowed 14 runs and the pressure got to Latham. He attempted a sweep that resulted in a leading edge to short fine-leg, cutting short his promising knock at 39. Guptill meanwhile completed his 31st ODI fifty and together with captain Williamson, steered the innings forward. However, Hardik Pandya made the breakthrough in his second spell, inducing an edge off Guptill to send him back for 72. Williamson and Ross Taylor then took control and added 46 runs at a steady pace.
Williamson had set himself nicely for a big innings and with New Zealand 184/2 in 35 overs, a challenging total was in sight. It was then that Mishra weaved his magic to remove Williamson (41) and James Neesham (6) within three overs. Williamson, undone by extra bounce, played one bad shot that resulted in a thick edge to wicketkeeper Dhoni while Neesham was caught by Virat Kohli at the covers. Those two strikes from Mishra (2/41) revived India as they refused to give New Zealand any opening. Together, Axar (1/38), Mishra and Kedar Jadhav (0/27) gave 106 runs in 28 overs.
The responsibility fell on Taylor’s shoulders who had BJ Watling, playing his first ODI since February 2013, for company. Kulkarni returned for a second spell and had Watling caught at fine leg by Rohit Sharma for 14. Then Taylor was run-out, thanks to a brilliant work from Dhoni who collected a slow throw from Kulkarni from the deep and released the ball quickly, without bothering to take a look at the stumps. The ball crashed on the stumps well before Taylor, who had labored to 34 off 58 deliveries, could make his ground. With wickets falling regularly, the late surge never came.
In fact, such was India’s stranglehold over the batsmen that they only allowed three fours in the final 10 overs as New Zealand finished with a below par total and will need some exceptional effort from their bowlers to stop India from sealing the series.
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