Black Caps’ Daryl Mitchell celebrates his century against India. Photo: photosport.nz/23102301
If you have travelled on Indian roads, you must have encountered speed breakers. Also known as speed bumps they are raised areas on the road that are designed to slow down vehicles as they pass over them. In New Zealand we know them as judder bars, writes Rahul Patil.
After four wins in
a row, the Black Caps faced their first speed breaker against hosts and
tournament favourites India on Saturday. In a top of the table clash to
determine a clear leader of the round robin stage, it was India who held their
nerve to walk away with a 4-wicket victory, with 12 balls to spare.
In ODI’s, a batting
innings is like a full-fledged orchestra where every batter must play their
part. You want a quick start from your openers, you want your middle order to
lay a solid foundation and then you want your finishers to put the icing on the
cake with a flourish at the end.
the Black Caps the only part of the orchestra that worked on the day was the
solid foundation laid by their middle order i.e., Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell
putting on 159 for the third wicket.
The Indians have
been extremely good with the ball in this World Cup. In the first and last ten
overs of New Zealand’s innings they put on an exhibition in white ball bowling.
Immaculate lines, precision perfect lengths and several variations to keep the
batters guessing. The fact that a bowler of the calibre of Mohammed Shami was
playing his first game of this World Cup is a testament to India’s bowling
resources. Shami responded with a 5-wicket haul that seemed to say, “How dare
you leave me out?”
When the whole
media box applauds a batter on reaching a century you know that it’s been a
terrific innings. Mitchell walked in at 19 for 2 and took charge of an innings
that was going nowhere. He had New Zealand’s find of the tournament Ravindra
for company, and together they started the rebuilding process one brick at a
time. The manner in which they nullified the threat of ‘Chinaman’ Kuldeep Yadav
was a lesson to all the other teams who have struggled against him. Apart from
them every other batter struggled to get going. To be fair to them it wasn’t
the easiest pitch to start playing shots from ball one.
I spoke to both Mitchell
and Ravindra after the game. Ravindra was disappointed at the timing of his
dismissal. On the shot that led to his dismissal Ravindra said he wanted to hit
it a bit wider of long on and unfortunately timed it a lot better than what he
thought he had. The complete team man that he is Mitchell was disappointed that
his fifth ODI hundred wasn’t in a winning cause.
The good news for
the Black Caps is that they fought till the end and ran a red-hot India very
close. They came within a wicket of having a crack at India’s bowlers and if
not for the Virat Kohli-Ravindra Jadeja partnership, we could have been talking
about a different result altogether.
India on the other
hand were poor in the field, got into a bit of a pickle in the run chase but
still managed to win comfortably. They are playing at a different level and
look unbeatable at the moment. Good luck trying to stop them winning a run
chase while Kohli is at the crease. He missed out on a record equaling 49th
ODI century in Dharamshala but he currently seems like a man possessed whose
sole focus is to end India’s ICC trophy drought.
I am not sure if
many Kiwis stayed up to watch India’s run chase but if you did you must have
witnessed one of the strangest reasons for a cricket match being stopped. Out
of nowhere a group of low hanging clouds descended on the Dharamshala Stadium
and within a matter of minutes the visibility went from crystal clear to zero.
Play was stopped for a brief period and the low hanging cloud cleared as
quickly as it had come in. It’s a beautiful part of the world and nature just
seemed to remind us about its presence once again.
New Zealand are still
in second place on the points table but South Africa with a game in hand might
displace them soon. Still, not much to worry about for the Black Caps. Their
next four opponents in Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are all
fighting demons of their own. After the speed breaker against India, New
Zealand need to change into a lower gear, build back the momentum and then slip
back into cruise control mode for the rest of the tournament.
New Zealand-based cricket
writer Rahul Patil has been accredited to cover the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023
for Cook Islands News. Follow him on Twitter/X, @rahulpatilnz.