A bright start and a dull end
New Zealand began brightly after opting to bat first. After safely seeing through the first over of Umesh Yadav, Martin Guptill opened up and began the attack. Dhawal Kulkarni was the first victim, taking him for three fours in the second over of the match. The template was set – Guptill would be the aggressor while Tom Latham will play on the merit. The formula worked as the duo collected 12 fours between them to take the total to 80/0 in the first 10 overs. However, the final 10 overs were a stark contrast in which New Zealand scored 61 runs for the loss of three wickets. Just three fours came during this period – one off the final ball – and New Zealand were restricted to 260/7.
Mishra weaves his magic
Amit Mishra continued to make an impact fourth time in a row with yet another impressive performance. When he was introduced, in the 11th over, the momentum was with the opposition but he did his job in applying the brakes on the run-rate and the pressure resulted in Latham playing a loose shot off Axar Patel and thus losing his wicket. He went wicketless in the first five overs but was tight allowing just 24 runs in them.
But he came good, at a crucial time, severely denting New Zealand batting with the wicket of a well-set Kane Williamson. He extracted extra bounce which left Williamson surprised and his attempt at a cut resulted in a thick outside edge that was taken by MS Dhoni. And in his next over, he dismissed James Neesham, who scored a counter-attacking half-century in Mohali. He finished with 2/41 from 10 overs, taking his tally to 10 wickets in the series.
Guptill shrugs off poor form
Guptill, given yet another opportunity to make amends, had a lucky day as he survived two dropped catches to score 72 from 84 deliveries. His 12 boundaries – some exceptional strokes and a few streaky ones helped him shrug off the poor form that saw him scoring a combined 39 runs from the first three ODIs of the series. Together with Latham, he didn’t allow the new-ball pair of Umesh and Kulkarni to settle in. He was lucky though, reprieved twice when Mishra, on both occasions, failed to hold onto the catches. But later on, Hardik Pandya beat him with the bounce, inducing an outside edge.
Williamson breaks the trend
New Zealand won the toss, for the first time on the tour in their eighth attempts. In the ongoing series, India have opted to field after winning the coin toss on all three occasions. Dhoni likes to chase and two out three times he has tasted success in the series while doing that. It was expected that Williamson might want to shake things up a little bit in the fourth ODI after calling it right and asking India to set a target for a change.
But he chose to field first. He based his decision on the ‘tired surface’ and backed it with the inclusion of two more spinners in his playing XI making it clear he expected the pitch to be slow. Dhoni later revealed he would have liked to field had he won the toss. So, no matter which team won the toss, India would have chased anyway.
Neesham’s deadly strikes
James Neesham failed to get runs but he more than made up for it with the twin dismissals of Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni that brought New Zealand back in the game. Likewise Guptill, Rahane too marked a return to form with a fluid fifty and looked set for a big one when Neesham kept one full and straight that hit him flush on the front pad. The umpire had no hesitation in raising his finger. And in his next over, he trapped the big fish – letting one slip through the gates to clean up India captain Dhoni for 11, leaving the capacity Ranchi crowd stunned.