Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Thriller ends in tie

Tim Southee of New Zealand looks on as Indian players celebrate the wicket of Luke Ronchi. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Southee of New Zealand looks on as Indian players celebrate the wicket of Luke Ronchi. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand and India produced one of the most epic one-day encounters on these shores with a tied third match, meaning the series stays alive into the final two games.

The hosts looked set for a series victory over the world champions until India brought on the spinners.

Ravinda Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin used their spinning fingers to twirl their bats, producing an 85-run, 55-ball partnership for the seventh wicket to bring the visitors to the cusp of a what would have been a staggering comeback.

The pair came together at 184 for five. Ashwin made 65 off 45 balls while Jadeja stayed to the end, hitting 66 off 45, living up to the byline on his parody Twitter account "Form is temporary, I am permanent".

Corey Anderson had the unenviable task of bowling the final over which went for 17 runs. He'll be working on his yorker in coming practices.

Ashwin exited courtesy of a Martin Guptill boundary stepping catch at deep mid-wicket; extraordinary presence of mind given the drama.

Hopefully the three spectacular matches thus far in the series resonate as much with the Indian board as it has with fans so New Zealand musters the respect they deserve as a sustainable opponent.

Nothing could stop 28,612 fans from creating an atmosphere reminiscent of ODI cricket in its early 1980s pomp. Expatriate Indian fans enhanced the experience, bringing a kaleidoscope of colour and a cacophony of noise to a meaningful match which decided a series. One banner proclaimed "God [Sachin] is watching u" in reference to the Indian team. A rupee for 'God's' thoughts now.

Guptill led the batting charge with his fifth ODI century to ensure a competitive total of 314, the second highest for a first innings at the ground in 63 ODIs. That was no reason for complacency; Australia's highest Eden Park total of 336 for four batting first was chased down by New Zealand in February 2007.

Guptill was supported by Kane Williamson who produced his third consecutive half-century in the series with 65 off 74 balls. His comfort of the back foot and ability to push singles into gaps again highlighted his suitability at No.3 in the order.

Guptill and Williamson's contribution to the New Zealand's dowry needed reinforcement. That came in the form of Hamish Bennett appearing in his first ODI since March 2011 after replacing Adam Milne in the squad.

He demobilised the Virat Kohli batting force field. First he bowled two maidens at India's latest batting hero before getting him caught behind in the next over. Kohli stood dejected at the crease, eventually summoning the energy to trudge.

Anderson again showed he is edging closer to the tag genuine all-rounder. His bat failed so he channelled his frustration into the ball, finishing with 5 for 63 in 10 overs. The highlight of Anderson's wickets was Tim Southee's effort at backward square leg to snaffle Dhoni for 50 off 60 balls; it almost went past him but Southee reclaimed it with the sort of snatch which would've caught a sheep trying to escape drenching.

Earlier, New Zealand stumbled in the latter overs, on what appeared a fast-paced, excellent batting wicket. They would be particularly disappointed with the batting power play from overs 35-39 where they could only muster 33 runs for the loss of two wickets. It left theming them at 231 for five.

Southee's 27 off 23 when he was run out on the final ball of the innings offered pep through the tail.

Too much aerial hitting stymied late runs and two run outs saw momentum splutter. Any disappointment is probably a reflection of expectations surrounding the present team.

India's fielding defending Eden Park's glorified backyard was exemplary. Rahane's skills catching Guptill and Luke Ronchi (38 from 20) were accentuated by his run out of Ross Taylor. Ashwin snatched a Brendon McCullum blast at cover point while Dhawan's bullet arm ran out Nathan McCullum. As a result, the bowlers took nowhere near the punishment they might have with spinners Jadeja and Ashwin going for less than five-an-over. The pace bowlers delivered the shorter ball with as much success as they have in the series; a highlight was Mohammed Shami pinning the silver fern on Guptill's helmet in the second over. They were let down by 11 wides.

SCOREBOARD

- Herald on Sunday

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