You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Kohli special muscles India home

Wisden India logo Wisden India 23-10-2016

Virat Kohli’s last ten One-Day International scores before Sunday (October 23) tell a story — 9, 85*, 8, 106, 117, 59, 91, 7, 138, 77. He’s not a man for half-measures; you either get him out cheaply when he gives you a chance, or you buy some popcorn to go along with your front-row ticket to the Kohli show.

Ross Taylor committed the cardinal mistake of dropping a low catch at a very wide slip when Kohli edged a ball from Matt Henry on 6, and effectively ended up buying front-row seats for the entire New Zealand team to watch the star batsman put on a masterclass, an unbeaten 154 off 134 balls. With Mahendra Singh Dhoni (80) playing the supporting role at No. 4, India overhauled the 286-run target and won the third ODI by seven wickets at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium to go 2-1 up in the five-match series.

Despite contributions from Tom Latham (61) and Taylor (44), New Zealand were in danger at 199 for 8, after India won the toss again and opted to bowl. Kedar Jadhav (3 for 29) and Amit Mishra (2 for 46) were the ones doing the damage, exploiting the turn off the surface and the trepidation among the batsmen. It was courtesy a workmanlike, ninth-wicket partnership between Jimmy Neesham (57) and Henry (39 not out) worth 84 that the visitors eventually reached 285 in 49.4 overs.

Full scorecard: India vs New Zealand, 3rd ODI

India lost Ajinkya Rahane early, picking out Mitchell Santner at cover off Henry, and Rohit Sharma, trapped leg before by Tim Southee, to find themselves at 41 for 2 in the ninth over. But by then, Kohli had already settled down, egged on by a vociferous crowd.

Dhoni decided to come out earlier than his usual No. 5 spot in a bid to wrest control of the game. There were some murmurs following the defeat in the previous game that the India captain looked a shadow of his former self, and whether the time had come to look beyond him. Dhoni answered those critics with a few big hits upfront while Kohli maintained a run-a-ball pace.

It soon became apparent that New Zealand had hit a brick wall on both sides as neither batsman offered even a half-chance during their 151-run stand. While Kohli was his typical busy self at the crease, Dhoni’s knock equally hurt New Zealand. He got to a couple of milestones — 9000 runs in ODIs and 195 sixes, the most by an Indian — and provided able support to Kohli, realising this wasn’t a chase where an attractive cameo would do. He fell mistiming a shot off Henry and was caught by Taylor at short cover.

Photos: Virat Kohli — The record breaker

Virat Kohli: The record breaker Virat Kohli: The record breaker

You wouldn’t have known a wicket had fallen though, such was Kohli’s dominance as he coaxed the ball to the fence time and again with splendid cover-drives and excellent wristwork. And unlike what transpired in the last game, he took the game till the end, an effortless six off Trent Boult to go with his 16 fours receiving the loudest cheer of the night. Kohli may be the master of run chases, but for him that’s no excuse to get too greedy and risk gifting his wicket.

As India crossed the line with ten balls to spare and Manish Pandey unbeaten on 28, here’s one more stat worth savouring — of Kohli’s 26 ODI hundreds, 22 have now come in a winning cause.

In the past two games, Martin Guptill was out fairly early, effectively bringing Kane Williamson to the crease early as well. But the opening batsman managed to show glimpses of his swashbuckling brand of cricket in the afternoon after New Zealand were asked to bat first for the third game in a row. He reached 27 off 21 balls before he plonked his front foot across and was trapped leg before by Umesh Yadav. He would be disappointed he couldn’t carry on, but he provided a rollicking start as New Zealand made 64 for 1 in the first 10 overs.

Dhoni then brought Jadhav into the attack to keep the batsmen on their toes. It proved to be an inspired choice as Williamson, having successfully swept the fourth ball for a boundary, tried to play the sweep again but the ball straightened and he was out lbw for 22.

Even a person new to the game would have been able to tell which batsman had runs under his belt and which one had barely any when Taylor joined Latham at the crease. Both played out dot balls, but while the former looked antsy, the latter was a picture of poise. From Taylor’s perspective, it would have seemed there were more fielders than there were gaps, but whatever frustration he may have felt, he reined it in.



While Latham nudged past fifty, Taylor deposited Axar Patel over deep midwicket with authority for a six. Just when it appeared as if Taylor would finally get a fifty, Mishra produced a beauty, beating him in the air, and the middle-order batsman was smartly stumped by Dhoni. 

From there, New Zealand lost their next three wickets for 16 runs to be 169 for 6. Corey Anderson tried to hit a boundary over cover and found the safe hands of Rahane. Luke Ronchi was suckered into getting too forward to a delivery from Mishra and Dhoni again knocked off the bails, the foot just on the line. And Latham, likely flustered by the sudden flurry of wickets, pushed the ball straight to Hardik Pandya at cover.

Though New Zealand recovered from that slip, the pleasant surprise for India was Jadhav’s part-time offspin fetching him six wickets in the series so far, having only taken one List A wicket before it began. Granted, his three wickets in five overs came off full-tosses and not highly skilful deliveries, but it ensured that India hardly missed the all-round skills of Suresh Raina, who was picked for the first three ODIs but missed each one with fever. Mishra, meanwhile, relied on nous and proved the toughest to get away from among the Indian bowlers.

Watch: Best helicopter shots in cricket history

Replay Video

More from Wisden India

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon