Want to be a professional cricketer?
A classy Virat Kohli century went in vain as India fell short by 24 runs in reply to a daunting 292 New Zealand put on the board. The young Delhi batsman was the only bright spark in what was a tentative run chase from the visitors. Rohit Sharma laboured to 3 off 23 balls, while Shikhar Dhawan fell to Corey Anderson for 32. But despite their struggles at the top, India looked well on course to achieve another famous run chase when Kohli and Dhoni’s partnership managed to gather steam and the pair were dispatching the New Zealand bowlers for fun, managing 61 runs in a fruitful six over spell between overs 35 to 40, reducing the target to 83 from the final ten overs. But the inroduction of Mitchell McClenaghan in the 43rd over turned the match in New Zealand’s favor as MS Dhoni was undone by the short ball.
Dhoni is one of India’s best at negotiating the short ball, but he had no answer to this bouncer from McClenaghan. Skiddy, and headed for the helmet. The Indian skipper was beaten for space, and the top edge struck the helmet and looped towards the leg gully region, and New Zealand keeper Luke Ronchi did the needful with an acrobatic catch. Ravindra Jadeja may be a matchwinner in the yellow of Chennai Super Kings, but he will need to establish his credentials as a top-draw international cricketer. Jadeja was welcomed with a slip and short cover in place, and looked ill at ease at the crease before nicking the third ball he faced to gift McClenaghan his second wicket in the over.
Kohli looked unfazed at the other end, and charged down the crease to take Nathan McCullum to the cleaners in the very next over. He added 13 from five deliveries, before driving a low full-toss from McClenghan into the welcome grasp of Jesse Ryder at short cover. Kohli, so often the saviour for India in tricky chases, has now scored a second innings century in a defeat, a sight he better get used to as the team quite often fails to live up to his sensational abilities. Albeit in a losing cause, Virat’s 123 off just 111 deliveries is a resounding reassurance that he is India’s man for all seasons.
Earlier in the day, a Corey Anderson blitz of 68 off 40, and his quickfire 66-run stand with Luke Ronchi helped the Kiwis register a more than competitive total of 292. Ronchi himself chipped in with 30 off 18, as the Indians managed to stem the flow of runs in the last five overs, reducing the hosts to just 36 from their last five in the face of a brutal Anderson assault, the destructive all-rounder carrying on from where he left off against the West Indies. The New Zealand innings too needed some stitching as they were reduced to 32 for 2 when Ross Taylor joined Kane Williamson in the middle.
The duo settled into the innings and began to take on the bowling after the 15th over, adding 121 in 24.2 overs, before the crafty Williamson fell just prior to teh powerplay. Ross Taylor failed to convert his start into a big knock, but Anderson did his reputation no damage whatsoever as he walloped the Indian bowling to all corners of the ground, as Ishant Sharma was sent onto the roof, one of the four sixes the Southpaw managed to hit in his blistering knock of 68. India managed to pull New Zealand back slightly in the last few overs, but in the final analysis, it has proved to be too little, too late.
The timing of the chase from Virat Kohli’s point of view was nearly perfect, but in the end, he had to settle for a mere warm ovation from an enthusiastic crowd at McLean Park.