Miserly In­dia set up de­cider with Black Caps as sab­o­tage­plot foiled

The Cricket Paper - - INTERNATIONAL CRICKET - By Adam El­lis

IN­DIA put aside the threat of the sec­ond ODI against New Zealand be­ing sus­pended to level the se­ries.

An al­leged plan by the Pune grounds­man to tam­per the pitch was ex­posed af­ter the Black Caps had won the first match in Mum­bai but the match went ahead when a re­place­ment grounds­man was called in.

New Zealand chose to bat af­ter win­ning the toss but found scor­ing dif­fi­cult as Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar and Jasprit Bum­rah took ad­van­tage of a faint tinge of green on the pitch.

Ku­mar took open­ers Martin Gup­till and Colin Munro out of the equa­tion shortly af­ter they had reached dou­ble fig­ures – Gup­till edg­ing be­hind to MS Dhoni for 11 and Munro’s leg stump be­ing clipped.

With Bum­rah cap­tur­ing the prized wicket of Kane Wil­liamson shortly be­fore Munro’s early exit, New Zealand were left rat­tled on 27-3 af­ter seven overs.

The Ki­wis would re­cover but could only set a tar­get of 231 in the face of the eco­nom­i­cal spells by Ku­mar and Bum­rah.

Gutsy in­nings of 38 by Tom Latham, 41 by Henry Ni­cholls, and 42 from all-rounder Colin de Grand­homme gave New Zealand a to­tal to de­fend but the hon­ours had gone to Ku­mar and Bum­rah whose com­bined fig­ures were a miserly 5-83 from 20 overs.

Half-cen­turies by opener Shikhar Dhawan and No.4 Di­nesh Karthik kept In­dia ahead of the rate de­spite the loss of skip­per Vi­rat Kohli for 29.

Left-han­der Dhawan hit five bound­aries and two sixes in an 84-ball knock un­til the pick of New Zealand’s bowlers, Adam Milne, dis­missed him on 68.

Karthik would re­main un­beaten on 64 in earn­ing the vic­tory with Dhoni at the other end, as In­dia won with four overs to spare to take the se­ries to a de­cider on Sun­day.

The game had faced the pos­si­bil­ity of not go­ing ahead when a TV sting op­er­a­tion ex­posed a pitch-tam­per­ing scan­dal.

Can­did footage from In­dia To­day TV emerged shortly be­fore play was due to begin of pitch man­ager Pan­durang Sal­gaonkar al­legedly agree­ing to pro­vide a dif­fer­ent pitch.

“Yes, he has been sus­pended and banned from en­ter­ing the sta­dium,” CK Khanna, act­ing pres­i­dent of the In­dian cricket board (BCCI), said.

“A neu­tral cu­ra­tor from Mum­bai has taken charge. He has in­spected the pitch and found it to be per­fectly fine. The match is on.”

Af­ter ini­tially sus­pend­ing Sal­gaonkar, the BCCI later re­leased a sec­ond state­ment con­firm­ing he had been re­lieved of his du­ties.

“Af­ter re­ports stat­ing an al­leged mal­prac­tice from the pitch cu­ra­tor Pan­durang Sal­gaonkar, the MCA has dis­missed him with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

“The ICC match ref­eree Chris Broad in­spected the pitch ahead of the match and cleared the same for the game to go ahead.”

The ICC has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into any breach of rules and will be un­der­taken by its anti-cor­rup­tion unit.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Take it home: Shikhar Dhawan helped see In­dia to vic­tory. In­set: MS Dhoni in­spects the pitch in Pune ahead of the sec­ond ODI

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