Cricket: Welcome to the masterclass

By David Leggat

New Zealand got a severe kicking in the third ODI against India last night; they cannot win the series now and unless they pick themselves up smartly are heading for an 0-4 pasting.

As beatings go, this 58-run loss was as comprehensive as they get.

India were sent in to bat by stand-in captain Brendon McCullum - Dan Vettori being with his wife, Mary, ahead of the impending birth of their first child - and smeared New Zealand's attack all over the AMI Stadium en route to 392 for four, the heaviest total New Zealand have conceded in 564 one-dayers.

A frenetic start briefly allowed the players, and the 14,000-strong crowd, to dream the impossible might just be possible. But New Zealand lost seven for 52 in 63 balls to succumb, after a rapid, late 83 from Kyle Mills and Tim Southee, for 334.

India can wrap up the five-match series in Hamilton on Wednesday. Do not bet against it.

You have read this before in the past week but New Zealand's bowling was wretched. Yes, the pitch last night was a belter, but far too much tripe was served up. India's batsmen were not about to waste the chance.

Sachin Tendulkar led the way with a masterly 163 off 133 balls before retiring with a stomach muscle problem.

He had formidable help from Yuvraj Singh and captain MS Dhoni, but Tendulkar's was the star which shone brightest.

It would have helped had New Zealand bowled in the right areas. They tried, but didn't give themselves a chance. Their lengths were wrong too often and their lines were generous. They might get away with it on a ground larger than a postage stamp or when bowling to lesser opposition.

"The way they batted was outstanding," McCullum said last night. "We didn't bowl anywhere near well enough, but the calibre of player they had, and the form they're in, it's always tough to contain."

Tendulkar and Yuvraj took the game away from New Zealand with their 138-run stand in 100 balls for the third wicket. They flogged 69 in their five-over powerplay. While Tendulkar had the touch of the rapier, Yuvraj brought his axe to the crease.

Then Dhoni chimed in with 68 in 58 balls, before left-hander Suresh Raina rounded things off with 38 off 18 balls. Four of his five sixes came in the space of five Tim Southee deliveries.

Spare a thought for poor Southee, battered about more than anyone yesterday.

New Zealand heads were down long before the end of the Indian innings, the bowlers powerless to stop the torrent of runs. Second-guessing batsmen of this class in excellent conditions is futile. All the signs are that India's batsmen have established a psychological grip. The room for error against the likes of Tendulkar is minimal. Get it slightly wrong and there's a heavy price to pay.

New Zealand needed to complete the second-highest successful ODI run chase, behind only South Africa's 438 for nine against Australia at Johannesburg three years ago.

When Jesse Ryder and McCullum set sail early, New Zealand, and the large crowd, were entitled to dream the impossible might just be on.

The pair larruped 166 with brilliant, attacking batting. Ryder's maiden ODI hundred off only 72 balls was exhilarating.

But once McCullum was run out after a communication glitch with Ryder, no one looked capable of keeping the foot to the floor.

"It's just frustrating we lost so many wickets through the middle stage and when you're chasing such a big total you need a lot of things to go your way," McCullum said.

The outlook for Hamilton is grim.

SCOREBOARD

India
V Sehwag b Mills 3
S Tendulkar retired hurt 163
G Gambhir c McGlashan b Butler 15
Y Singh c McGlashan b Elliott 89
MS Dhoni c McGlashan b Mills 68
S Raina not out 38
Y Pathan not out 1
Extras (5lb 8w 4nb) 17

Total (for 4 wkts, 50 overs) 392

Fall: 15 (Sehwag), 65 (Gambhir), 203 (Yuvraj), 338 (Tendulkar), 382 (Dhoni)

Bowling: K Mills 10-0-58-2 (3nb), T Southee 10-0-105-0 (2w), I Butler 5-0-37-1 (2w), J Oram 8-1-34-0 (3w), J Patel 5-0-37-0, J Ryder 5-0-56-0 (1nb), G Elliott 7-0-60-1 (1w).

New Zealand
J Ryder c Khan b Harbhajan 105
B McCullum run out (Raina) 71
R Taylor run out (Yuvraj) 7
M Guptill lbw b Yuvraj 1
G Elliott b Khan 18
J Oram b Harbhajan 7
P McGlashan b Khan 7
I Butler b Yuvraj 24
K Mills c Khan b Pathan 54
T Southee c and b Kumar 32
J Patel not out 0
Extras (2lb 4w 2nb) 8

Total (all out, 45.1 overs) 334

Fall: 166 (McCullum), 179 (Taylor), 182 (Guptill), 188 (Ryder), 203 (Oram), 217 (Elliott), 218 (McGlashan), 251 (Butler), 334 (Mills), 334 (Southee).

Bowing: Z Khan 9-0-65-2 (1w), P Kumar 8.1-0-60-1 (1w), M Patel 7.2-0-79-0 (2nb 1w), Y Singh 10-0-71-2 (1w), H Singh 10-0-56-2, Y Pathan 0.4-0-1-1.

Result: India won by 58 runs and lead the five-match series 2-0.

- NZ Herald

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