Hard to know what to say after a match like that. I should crack jokes and stuff for this blog war thing with Short Of A Length, but don’t really know how. Ultimately India take an unassailable lead in the series, and New Zealand have another epically awful bowling performance to despair over, but those bare facts disguise a truly momentous game of cricket. Had one or two inscrutable moments rolled another way we might have won, or lost by 200 or so.
In any case, some highlights. Sachin Tendulkar’s century was maybe the best ODI innings I’ve ever seen, beautifully paced (he brought up his half-century of 59; his century at a run a ball; by the time he retired hurt he was on 163 off 133) and such effortless hitting. I truly believed until his stomach strain that he was going to break the last great batting barrier, the ODI double century. Tim Southee outdid him though, bringing up his century in under 60 balls, a truly terrible day with the ball for him, though he partially redeemed himself with some quick runs at the close. Oh, and the match had the small matter of 726 runs scored on the day, the second-highest in ODI history.What else? India scored 10 or more off 14 of their 50 overs, and the 18 sixes India hit equalled the record for an ODI innings. New Zealand responded with 11 of their own, the match tally must surely be a record too. Jesse Ryder hit the 3rd fastest century by a New Zealander, and should have had the fastest but for a speed wobble that ran into the most unfortunate period of the match for New Zealand.
That spell, when we lost four wickets for 22 runs, and went from cruising, with India looking totally panic-stricken, was the undoing of the match. The horrible run-out of McCullum, on I think Ryder’s bad call (though McCullum looked slower than usual between the wickets), sparked India out of their inexplicable slump, and after the similarly mental runout of Taylor, then Baxter’s utterly abysmal decision on Guptil, our momentum and best batsmen were gone.
So I guess this should really be part of the blog wars with Short Of A Length, but I just can’t bring myself to fight. It was too good a game, even if the ending came a little short of where I might have liked. If I have to, though, I’ll make a few comments. Firstly, India’s fielding before the McCullum runout was comically bad. Dhoni’s drop, then Yuvraj’s… We should have been bundled out for 150, really, and the ground fielding was sloppy as hell too, like Sri Lanka in the early ’90s or something. Also, having a bowler forcibly removed from the crease for persistent height no-balls when you’re defending 392 is just shameful as hell. We smashed your spinners for a little while. What else? Sehwag only got three runs.
Aside from that, it was pretty much the most crushingly cominant batting display i’ve ever seen, as bad as our bowling was (where the f*** did this horrible new shin-high full toss that we’re sending down about once an over appear from?) India’s batting, the beauty of Tendulkar and the savagery of Yuvraj was as close to perfect as I could ever hope to see.
So, uh, good work, you’ve got the series, or half of it guaranteed, and the only saving grace for New Zealand is that our openers look in pretty reasonable nick, and that Dan should be back for the next one. On Tuesday, in Hamilton. Another wee ground, and one we’ve chased big on before, so maybe the signs have moved ever so slightly in our favour after a fairly shambolic start to the campaign… A man can dream, right?