Miserly India set up decider with Black Caps as sabotageplot foiled
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.
Take it home: Shikhar Dhawan helped see India to victory. Inset: MS Dhoni inspects the pitch in Pune ahead of the second ODI