New Zealand steal one-run win


New Zealand defeated India by one run in the second Twenty20 international at the Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Tuesday. India, chasing New Zealand’s 167-5, were restricted to 166-4 despite Virat Kohli’s 70 off 41 balls. Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh bowled two overs, took a catch and scored 34 runs off 26 balls in his first international outing after being treated for cancer earlier this year. The opening game of the two-match series, a tune-up for next week’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, was washed out without a ball being bowled in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
Earlier, Brendon McCullum lifted New Zealand from 2 for 2 with a calculated 91 that highlighted his importance to his side, especially in Twenty20s. McCullum had support from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, but he was almost single-handedly responsible for New Zealand reaching a competitive score with a knock that began watchfully, and then exploded into a frenzy of powerful hits over extra cover, down the ground and over midwicket.
McCullum often begins a Test innings with a charge down the track and it was probably the two early wickets that made him play with some caution initially. Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill came out swinging but were bowled by incoming deliveries from Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan, and New Zealand were 2 for 2 in the second over.
McCullum broke free in the fifth over, flicking and cutting Zaheer for boundaries. L Balaji, making his T20I debut and playing his first game for India since February 2009, was inside-edged past short fine leg and sliced over point for boundaries in the next over.
Williamson, a calm man under pressure usually, ensured he gave the strike to McCullum, who was now in control enough to ward off his usual self-destructing tendencies.
Sweeps, reverse-sweeps and scoops were kept away. The one time he tried a reverse-sweep, on 38, he got away with a close lbw shout against R Ashwin, with the umpire ruling there was an inside edge when replays indicated there wasn’t any. McCullum’s one good innings during the Test series against India was ended when the umpire did not spot an inside edge. It was his turn to benefit today.
McCullum went after Ashwin, lofting him over extra cover for boundaries and down the ground for sixes. Ashwin, the lone spinner playing ahead of the recalled Harbhajan Singh, went for 34 in three overs.
There was not much help for the spinner, though, and MS Dhoni’s selection of three medium-pacers in the XI worked on the pitch with some grass cover. Zaheer was sharp, Irfan productive, and Balaji an efficient third seamer. Yuvraj Singh bowled two tidy overs of slow left-arm on his comeback from cancer and was alert in the field. McCullum was hard to control, though, and was only nine short of what would have been his second T20I hundred when he was eventually bowled after missing a sweep off a slow cutter from Irfan Pathan in the 17th over. Taylor and Jacob Oram were around to take New Zealand to a respectable score on a pitch where the ball came on at decent pace.
With the injured Virender Sehwag missing this game, it will be interesting to see who opens the India innings with Gautam Gambhir.