James Franklin led New Zealand’s revival with a fighting unbeaten half-century as the visitors recovered from a poor start to post 224 for 9 against India in the third one-day international here on Saturday.
Down 0-2 and faced with a must-win situation, the visitors made a shocking start by losing their openers within the first five overs and were struggling at 106 for seven before Franklin (72 not out) and Nathan McCullum repaired the innings with a stand of 94.
The left-handed Franklin batted sensibly after coming in at 49 for 4 in the 16th over even as continued to tumble from the other end. He top-scored for the Black Caps with the help of five fours and one six in 108 balls while McCullum made 43 in 53 balls with four fours.
Their eighth-wicket stand off 107 balls took the score to 200 after the Kiwis had lost half their side for 77.
Apart from the eighth wicket pair, only opener Martin Guptill (12) and Scott Styris (22) reached the double figures in a largely uninspiring display put up by the Kiwis after they were asked to bat first by the hosts.
For India, Zaheer Khan (2/31), Yusuf Pathan (2/37 and R Ashwin (2/49) shared six wickets among them while Munaf Patel chipped in with one scalp.
The pitch for the match was a major surprise at a venue that normally provides flat tracks. There was a lot of bounce for the pace bowlers and bounce and turn for the spinners.
New Zealand batsmen, having played on low-bouncing tracks after coming to India in early November, were undone by the extra bounce. Zaheer Khan utilised the bounce to the fullest extent in his splendid first spell of seven overs as he made early inroads into the Kiwi top order.
Coming off after a three-week lay-off, the left-arm paceman struck in the second legal ball of his first over when he prised out danger man Brendon McCullum, who also came into the series after missing the opening two ties because of a back problem.
McCullum was caught in second slip by Murali Vijay off a rising ball that moved away a shade. It was a huge blow as the Kiwis were hoping for a big knock from the hard-hitting batsman which was not to be. The scorecard read 2/1 which became 19/2 due to an needless run out of in-form opener Martin Guptill.
Guptill, after on-driving Zaheer imperiously for the first six, went for a quick single after driving the ball behind the bowler but was beaten by a quick dash, pick-up and throw from mid-on by India captain Gautam Gambhir, who unerringly hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end.(PTI)