Andrew Alderson 's Opinion

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

Andrew Alderson: This cricket is catching the eye

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The Black Caps' resurgence in a David v Goliath ODI series has captured the public's summer mood.

MS Dhoni of India in action during the tied ODI between New Zealand and India at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images
MS Dhoni of India in action during the tied ODI between New Zealand and India at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images

When did we last see one-day international cricket like it?

The New Zealanders have captured the public's summer mood with their David-Goliath efforts against world champions India.

The public recognises something likeable about this team. Perhaps there is minimal backs-to-the-wall surliness? Maybe it's an injection of Rocky syndrome, witnessing an underdog on the rise? Any disappointment with Saturday's tie is probably just a reflection of increased expectations.

This is an assumption, but most New Zealand fans would probably have leapt like orange T-shirted one-handed catchers before the series if offered an unassailable 2-0 lead.

For sheer compulsion this series rivals the record-breaking scoring of the 2006-07 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy where NZ triumphed over world champions Australia; it competes with the 2001-02 debut of Shane Bond in the VB series where he started by tearing out Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Bevan at the MCG; and it challenges the heroics of Lance Cairns' Excalibur during the 1982-83 Australian tri-series.

The impact has only been amplified by the background political machinations of the Indian board and their Australian and English cohorts as Martin Snedden and David White prepare to burst through the saloon doors and take no prisoners in the International Cricket Council boardroom this week.

New Zealand is on the cusp of just their second ODI series victory over India in a series of three or more matches, following the 5-2 triumph of 2002-03. Despite that triumph, this series appears to offer something extra.

Is it the pure stroke-making of Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli? The clean striking of Martin Guptill and Mahendra Singh Dhoni? The aggression of Mitchell McClenaghan and Mohammed Shami? The determination of Corey Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja?

Perhaps, dare we say it, we owe part of the revival to twenty20. In the past the prospect of chasing down 156 in Auckland, 177 in Hamilton or 156 in Napier from the final 20 overs would have been intimidating. Not now. The proliferation of T20 cricket, severe fielding restrictions and more powerful bats means these targets are in - or perhaps it is more appropriate to say "out of" - the ball park.

The T20 revolution has also brought an acceptance of a greater fielding skills set. Spectacular catches and direct run-outs like the efforts of Guptill and Ajinkya Rahane at Eden Park are expected rather than looked upon as freakish acts.

As for the bowlers, well, there's still a touch of hope-for-the-best about their limited-overs prospects on excellent batting pitches with short boundaries and limited field placements, but a decent slower ball, bouncer and yorker are always handy to prevent spectacles turning into T-ball.

This series has shown how ODIs can weave more context and depth into a match than a T20. Innings need to be constructed beyond what at times are crash-bash T20 bores. Expatriate Indian fans have also enhanced the longer experience, bringing a kaleidoscope of colour and a cacophony of noise.

Fans are crawling out from behind the couches where they've been cringing intermittently for years. With the hosting of the World Cup just over a year away, New Zealand's resurgence couldn't be better timed.

- NZ Herald

Andrew Alderson

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

Andrew Alderson writes on sport for the Herald on Sunday. His main focuses are cricket and the Olympic disciplines. His most recent project was reporting on New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2013 northern summer. He has attended three cricket World Cups and three Olympics.

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