ICC World Cup 2019 | Just Focusing on the Fina…

Birmingham: There seems to be a Jofra Archer tweet for every situation in cricket.

Archer’s tweets from the past that seem apt for many events of the ongoing World Cup are a rage on social media. Here’s what he has to say about it:

“I’ve seen it but I don’t know why it should be a big thing. It’s just social media, that’s all it’s there for,” he said after England’s semifinal win over Australia on Thursday. “I used to do it by just watching cricket when I was back home, I wasn’t even in England when I tweeted half of those stuff!

"I think they’re just being recycled. Genuinely, some were series, some were World Cups.”

But are there any tweets suggesting an England win in the final against New Zealand on Sunday?

“Definitely.”

Onto the more serious stuff now, like his spell of 2 for 32 that played a big part in England bowling out Australia for just 223, setting up a comfortable eight-wicket win.

Archer doesn’t talk much, but said getting a wicket off his first ball – that of Aaron Finch for a first-ball duck – got the England team to ‘switch on’ from the word go.

“Emotions were definitely flying after that, everyone just lit a lot more and focus was switched on,” he said. “You know you get that feeling. Today during the breakfast, I don’t think anyone was nervous. Everyone just had the focus when we went to the ground. These are little things that make you feel that the guys are ready. You try not to get nervous but you end up doing stuff you’re not supposed to do. The calmer you are, the better you are in a situation.”

He then injured Alex Carey with a rapid bouncer that hit the batsman’s chin. Carey braved the hit with tape and made a gutsy 46.

“You don’t always mean to hit him, you just bowl a bouncer because it can be a wicket-taking ball or a dot ball,” said Archer. “You don’t want to hit the batter. When it hits, you feel a little bit bad for doing it. But it’s cricket but I don’t think he’ll be the last person to get hit.”

Archer said it’s not yet sunk in that England are in the final, and all he hoped for was an England win even if he had a bad day.

“It’s important that the team is doing well. I could be doing terribly but as long as the team is winning I’m alright.”

Archer is third in the list of wicket-takers in the World Cup, with 19 wickets from 10 matches. His rapid rise to the international stage could take another big step in the form of an Ashes call up, but Archer wasn’t thinking too much about it.

“After Sunday I’ll probably answer that but for now I’m just focusing on the final,” he said.

Archer had a side niggle a couple of games back but clarified it wasn’t a major worry at the moment and hoped for a well-deserved rest after the World Cup.

“I’ve been like this for a few games now, it’s not got any worse so that’s a good sign. I’m probably going to rest anyway. I think I’ll get a well-deserved rest,” he said.

ICC World Cup 2019 | That Empty Tendulkaresque…

Manchester: MS Dhoni made a generation of Indians who were used to switching off televisions after Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissals watch on with hope and belief. In a nutshell, that’s his biggest achievement in cricket.

Like many other ‘90s kids, I grew up watching Tendulkar, wanting to be a Tendulkar. Posters on wall, wallpapers on computers, imitate the signature abdomen adjustments, try the straight drive and the straight six off Michael Kasprowicz – I’ve done it all.

It helped that I grew up in Chennai, one of Tendulkar’s favourite venues. I’d bunk school to watch him score century after century at the MA Chidambaram stadium. I was among the many tearful faces in the epic ’99 Test against Pakistan. I was among the many happy faces in the other centuries against Australia (’98 and 2001) and England (2008).

It’s embarrassing now – but my first e-mail id went ‘tendulkarthik@ …’

AFP

Towards the end of Tendulkar’s career, an empty feeling began to strike. I wasn’t one of those ‘won’t watch cricket after Tendulkar retirement’ fans – my job wouldn’t allow me that anyway – but the fanboy feeling went missing.

Finding new heroes and inspirations in your 20s is perhaps not as easy as it is in childhood. As kids, you’re just naturally and unconditionally attracted to someone without any logic or reason. It’s almost like first love. In the 20s, it’s not as natural as your mind also gets involved along with the heart.

And then came Dhoni. The transition from being a fan of Tendulkar to Dhoni – it’s not mutually exclusive, by the way – is in some ways moving from thinking beyond self to understanding cricket in more detail. Tendulkar is the perfect role model for young cricketers to emulate for their personal skills – his technique and correctness as a batsman are a coaching manual in itself.

Once you imbibe those lessons, you could look towards Dhoni to understand the game deeper and read situations. Now, this isn’t to say Tendulkar didn’t read situations or contribute for team, so don’t outrage.

I can’t quite recollect when exactly I began to admire Dhoni. My earliest memory is of wondering how on earth he is playing for India with that technique, around the time he made his debut.

Remember I was in peak years as a Tendulkar fan then.

And then, gradually, Dhoni along with the Yuvraj Singhs and Suresh Rainas began to do something Indian fans aren’t used to – win chases regularly. It was the period of Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell, when finisher Dhoni was born.

(AFP)

And then came another thing Indian fans aren’t used to – an ICC event trophy in the World T20 2007. And then the CB series in Australia, and so on. The biggest of them all was the World Cup 2011, and the manner in which he sealed it.

In my mind, Dhoni the team man stood out in one of Tendulkar’s biggest personal milestones – the 200 against South Africa in the Gwalior ODI of 2010. Tendulkar was approaching the milestone but was also tired and slowing down. Dhoni took charge in a 68* (35), to an extent where he hardly even gave Tendulkar the strike. With Tendulkar on 199, Dhoni played all six balls of the penultimate over and even took a single in the last ball to retain strike.

That Tendulkar even got strike in the third ball of the last over was because Hashim Amla made a diving stop in the deep.

Social media outraged, but I saw a man putting team beyond even the most ridiculous of personal records. It helped that he played for a team that represented my city in the IPL; the bonding between Chennai and Dhoni is one to experience, not describe.

Other snapshots of Dhoni memories include his other trophies and numerous finishes, but also his handling of defeat; calling for a team huddle after CSK lost the IPL final of 2008, and breaking into a victory lap to thank the Chepauk crowd after losing the 2012 IPL final narrowly. It showed the way he dealt with highs and lows of sport.

But more than the trophies, stats and other victories, it’s his self belief come what may that should be a big takeaway from his career. It came out to the fore in his highest career point – the World Cup final at Wankhede.

(Twitter)

Think for a moment how the country would have reacted had the out-of-form Dhoni’s decision to promote himself over in-form Yuvraj Singh backfired. But to not have bothered about the external voices and consequences, and focus only on the cricketing logic makes that decision one of the toughest ones taken by an Indian captain.

Dhoni’s self belief also came to the fore in one of his toughest career points – the semifinal against New Zealand in World Cup 2019. He took the game deep, deep and deeper, sticking to his belief despite not being in the best of hitting forms. In his mind, he’d have been calculating that the last over was to be bowled by James Neesham. He would have believed he could target Neesham’s inexperience, even though Dhoni isn’t the batsman he was.

A gripping fairytale last-over finish was very much possible, before Martin Guptill got in the way. It was a rather abrupt, ironic and even cruel ending, at least to Dhoni’s World Cup if not international career.

A man who takes the game till the very end. A man who calculates every run and prides himself on being able to run fast despite his age. A man who speaks about converting one-and-a-half into two runs. Run out by inches. No fairytale to the man who gave my childhood hero – and his – a fairytale. Sport is cruel.

As Dhoni walked back to the pavilion, the journalist next to me in the press box stood up to applaud. The others stayed glued to their seats, perhaps due to notions of objectivity. I couldn’t get up too – I was struck by that same empty feeling I felt years back for Tendulkar.

ICC World Cup 2019 | Woakes, Rashid Pick Three…

Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid combined to bowl out Australia for 223 in 49 overs despite a defiant 85 from Steve Smith at Edgbaston in Birmimgham on Thursday.

Smith held one end up after England had Australia three down in no time, but didn’t receive extended support from his partners. Woakes got 3 for 20 from eight overs , Rashid had 3 for 54 while Archer bagged 2 for 32.

Australia opted to bat first but had a nightmarish start as they slipped to 14 for 3 in 6.1 overs. Aaron Finch lbw for a first-ball duck to Jofra Archer, David Warner nicked a fiery short ball from Chris Woakes to slip and Peter Handscomb was bowled by an in-dipper.

The dire situation forced Australia to give in-form Alex Carey a promotion to No. 5. They needed someone to stick with Steve Smith, and Carey did that well. He copped a blow on his chin from an Archer bouncer, resulting in bleeding and need for plasters. But he braved that to stick around as Australia fought back.

Archer and Woakes were brilliant with the new ball but Smith weathered the storm, batting defiantly. He scored only 7 runs off his first 34 balls, Australia were 27 for 3 at the end of the first 10.

The runs began to flow soon, Smith driving and pulling elegantly to the boundaries. Carey took the attack to Adil Rashid and the partnership crossed 100.

But just when the pair seemed set to make it count, Carey fell lofting Rashid to deep mid-wicket for 46. The legspinner made life worse for Australia three balls later, trapping Marcus Stoinis lbw for 0 with a wrong one.

Glenn Maxwell began in attacking fashion against Rashid, but couldn’t extend his knock beyond a cameo of 22. He was undone by change of pace from Archer, handing cover a simple catch. Pat Cummins too couldn’t do much as he edged Rashid to slip for the legspinner’s third wicket.

At 166 for 7 in the 38th, Australia were badly in need of a decent finish to give their bowlers a chance.

Mitchell Starc provided that briefly, taking on the role of aggressor in a 51-run stand for the eighth wicket with Smith. The duo took the score closer to 220 when Smith was run out by a direct hit from Jos Buttler at the bowler’s end in the 48th over. The very next ball, Starc was out nicking behind to Woakes.

Mark Wood cleaned up Jason Behrendorff as Australia managed to bat only 49 overs.

ICC World Cup 2019 | From Bits and Pieces to P…

Manchester: Ravindra Jadeja flicked James Neesham to the on side and hared back for the second run. He jogged on further after completing the brace, before pausing in the direction of the Indian dressing room.

He then unleashed the Talwar, twirling his bat effortlessly like a sword. As he turned back to get back to his position, he paused again. This time, he looked further above the dressing room, at the commentators’ box and spread his arms wide. Every single person in the ground and beyond knew what he was signaling “Call me a bits and pieces cricketer now, Sanjay Manjrekar?”

Bits and pieces.

Ever since the Jadeja vs Manjrekar battle began, I’ve been wondering if the phrase is too negative to be used as an adjective to describe a cricketer. How would I feel if someone said I’m a ‘bits and pieces’ writer? How would you feel if someone said you’re ‘bits and pieces’ at whatever you do?

Cricketers, sportsmen and artists are subject to criticism of course, but phrases like bits and pieces, clearly used in a negative connotation, have become mainstream. Perhaps there are alternatives.

Manjrekar might not even have meant to hurt Jadeja when he first described him as a ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer – he was just doing his job as an analyst. But it’s also not right to expect cricketers to understand the nuances, especially when they’ve heard a negative comment for no apparent reason. Jadeja hadn’t even played a game in the World Cup at that point.

Responding to a question on how players deal with criticism, Rohit Sharma said each player deals with it in a different way but stressed that ‘constant yapping’ – without mentioning Manjrekar – was not right.

It’s easy to visualise Jadeja reading a comment – which he perceived as negative – on him out of the blue and taking the easiest option as a retort. ‘How much cricket have you played?’

Since Jadeja’s public outburst, it almost became a personal battle. Jadeja had a decent game against Sri Lanka, but Manjrekar yet again said he wouldn’t pick him in his side for the semifinal. He then explained why, plucking out stats of India’s spinners against New Zealand.

It’s hard to view this as ‘analysis’ – the original bits and pieces comment was – as Jadeja had last played an ODI against New Zealand in 2014. Surely, Manjrekar would have known that those numbers aren’t exactly reflective of the current scenario?

Or the fact that Kuldeep Yadav wasn’t having a great World Cup having picked only six wickets in seven matches. If Kuldeep isn’t picking wickets, India might as well play Jadeja to strengthen their batting and fielding.

Negative or positive, calling Jadeja a bits and pieces cricketer is also doing injustice to his steady improvement since his comeback last September. With the ball, he has been steady as always. He has two four-wicket hauls and one three-wicket haul, and generally been the bowler he has been.

The bigger improvement is in his batting. It’s the last one year in which he has finally realised his potential as a batsman. It began with an 86* in the only Test he played in the England tour. He followed it up with his maiden Test ton, against West Indies in Rajkot. He hit another 81 against Australia in Sydney.

In ODIs too, Jadeja played a couple of handy, mature knocks lower down the order in the Asia Cup. He scored 54 against New Zealand in the World Cup warm-up after India were reeling at 37 for 4. There was evidence to show Jadeja isn’t just bits and pieces. Perhaps that’s why he was hurt and burst out on twitter.

But what better way to answer critics than on the field? Jadeja did that in style against New Zealand. First with a spell of 1 for 34 in 10 overs on Day 1 of the One-Day International. Day 2 began with Jadeja running out Ross Taylor with a direct hit from the deep, and taking a brilliant catch to send back Tom Latham very next ball. Bowling bit – check. Fielding bit – double check.

And then came the best of all – the batting bit.

Jadeja walked in at 92 for 6, still a mountain left to climb. He had seen two batsmen giving their wickets away to big shots, so attacking immediately might not have been a great idea. There was only Bhuvneshwar Kumar to come. Yet, he had to keep India going.

He took five balls to settle down, and then danced out to smash Neesham over wide long-on. From there, he steadily raised India’s hopes. Mitchell Santner’s first spell read 6-2-7-2, but Jadeja took him on too, hitting a couple of sixes.

Jadeja just seemed like a man with intent, all fired up right from the outset. It helped that he had the company of MS Dhoni. If at all there is a man who knows Jadeja in and out, it’s the former India captain.

Dhoni would give him strike, and instruct Jadeja what to do. When Jadeja seemed to get carried away with his celebration, Dhoni would ask him to refocus. Together, they got India as close as they could. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Two years back, Jadeja went back from England as villain after running out Hardik Pandya in the Champions Trophy final. Now, despite the loss, he’ll return a hero.

“I don’t think any of us had to say anything to Jadeja after what happened over the last one week. He was quite ready to just get on to the park, to be honest,” Kohli smiled.

“And you saw the passion with which he played and we have seen it in Test cricket a few times, he’s played knocks under tremendous pressure and he’s got three triple hundreds in first class cricket if I’m not wrong, so the talent has obviously always been there.

"And in my watching Jadeja for ten years, me playing with him as well, this is probably his top quality, like best knock according to me because of the kind of pressure, the stage we are at – almost out of the game and then he produces that. I’m really happy for him because he’s been a very understated cricketer but a top quality cricketer for India in the field, with the ball, with the bat. Priceless.”

From ‘bits and pieces’ to ‘priceless’. It’s been quite a week for Jadeja, and even Manjrekar had to take note.

“Bits and by pieces, he just ripped me apart today. Bits and by pieces of sheer brilliance, he proved me wrong on all fronts,” he told the host broadcasters.

India vs New Zealand | Top-order Woes Against …

Manchester: The one problem. The only problem, even. The one team that has continuously exposed that problem. India had their worst of nightmares come true at the most inopportune time – the World Cup semifinal.

India’s biggest weakness is a precise situation where the middle order is left alone without the top order batsmen for company. When Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma – given Shikhar Dhawan is not here – are not around to help the rest of the batting. If there’s a side that has probed this weakness of India regularly in the last few months, it is New Zealand.

92 all out in Hamilton. 18 for 4 in Wellington. 39 for 4 in London (warm-up). And now, 24 for 4 in Manchester. Four matches in a row, New Zealand have exposed with pinpoint accuracy India’s major issue.

We’ve seen it numerous times in Test cricket. The swinging ball is not an easy thing to handle for any batsman, especially Indians. They struggled in the Test series in England last year. They’ve struggled in white-ball cricket in seamer friendly conditions regularly too.

Pakistan bowled them out for 158 in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval, Sri Lanka skittled them out for 112 in Dharamsala, Australia had them 4 for 3 in Sydney. New Zealand have taken it to a different level, doing it four consecutive times. India might be the stronger and more successful side in general. But New Zealand have a way to trouble them – a bit like Rafael Nadal v Roger Federer, although New Zealand don’t have as much a success rate.

Quite a few Indian fans would have been happy when South Africa defeated Australia in the last league game to set up an India-New Zealand clash. ‘Thank god, we’ve avoided England’ was their predominant feeling. Those were wrong sense of security – New Zealand were never going to be easy, especially under the cloudy skies above Manchester.

Matt Henry and Trent Boult showed why in a matter of 45 minutes – a period which Virat Kohli said cost India big.

Boult’s first spell read 6-2-15-1. Henry’s was even better: 7-1-23-3. India’s lowest score in the World Cup when both Rohit and Kohli were dismissed, before this game, was 135 against Afghanistan. Here, they were 5 for 2.

India, unlike their fans, knew about the threat too. Here’s Kohli on what makes New Zealand different from the others.

“I wasn’t surprised with how New Zealand played. If there is a low total, we knew there’s probably only one or two sides in world cricket that will put seven fielders in the ring and that was always going to be New Zealand,” he said after the loss.

“We knew they were going to attack more and not let the game go to the end, they won’t take it deep, they will go all out and play the game that way because I have seen them play that way. Today also third man was up in the ring. In the one-day game you had five catching fielders. So they know how to put pressure because they play very consistent cricket and today was an example of that.”

What could India have done different?

Rohit and Kohli had an off day, as did KL Rahul. Were they missing Shikhar Dhawan? It’s hard to say. Dhawan fell to Boult four out of four times in the series against New Zealand. Overall, Boult has dismissed Dhawan five times in eight battles – the joint most by a bowler along with Morne Morkel. Boult has also had Dhawan thrice in three Tests, and once in T20Is.

Dhawan would have hoped to get better against Boult by facing him in the Delhi Capitals nets, but the immediate result suggests not much improvement. In the first game after IPL, India faced New Zealand in the World Cup warm-up. Who did Dhawan get out to? Yes, Boult again.

Different teams have different ways of countering collapses. Some counter-attack. Some try to guts it out.

There was an IPL match in the 2018 season between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, where MS Dhoni sent in lower order batsmen like Deepak Chahar and Harbhajan Singh after a top-order collapse. He explained it was to ‘create a bit of chaos’ and upset the bowlers’ rhythms. The Indian team doesn’t believe in such chaos theories. They stuck with their regular approach, but they didn’t have batsmen equipped with temperament to do it for long.

The chaos was in the dressing room. Dinesh Karthik had said a few days back that the team management had made it clear he was a finisher at No. 7. He wasn’t picked for the first seven games and batted only once, in the dying stages against Bangladesh, in the league stage. Here, he was walking in at 5/3. He took 20 balls to get off the mark, and soon chipped a catch to point. 5 for 3 became 24 for 4.

Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya got themselves in, but didn’t have the calmness and perseverance to weather the storm in the middle overs when Mitchell Santner kept them quiet. Two bad shots, India 92 for 6. Santner’s first spell: 6-2-7-2.

Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni tried their best and took the game deep, but the chaos at the top was a bit too much to come out of.

Pinch-hitter to unleash chaos, Dhoni up the order and other such suggestions are hindsight. What India could have done differently was in the lead up to the tournament. It all came back to the ideal No. 4 – someone who could weather a storm as well as push the game further. If only they had invested in Pant earlier, he might have known how to deal with such situations. Or maybe they could have stuck with the other options who they had groomed through the build up to the World Cup. ‘If only’ is all India have at the moment.

Years of preparation didn’t give them an ideal solution to that middle order question which has followed them throughout like a Betal to Vikramaditya.

The World Cup really tests every possible aspect of a team’s game. Unfortunately for India, the test for which they have no answer came against New Zealand in a knockout.

India vs New Zealand Semifinal | Bumrah, Bhuvn…

New Zealand added 28 runs from 23 balls on the reserve day of their World Cup semifinal against India to complete their innings on 239 for 8.

Overnight on 211 for 5 in 46.1 overs after rain washed out, New Zealand looked to collect runs through doubles in the first two overs on the second day. It resulted in Ross Taylor being run out for 74 by a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja from deep square-leg. Tom Latham looked fell the very next ball when he slogged to deep mid-wicket, Jadeja completing the catch again.

The tail couldn’t finish too strongly either, as New Zealand managed only one boundary in the period. However, they added 84 in the last 10 overs of their innings. Jasprit Bumrah finished with 1 for 39 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished with 3 for 43.

On Tuesday, New Zealand won an important toss on a pitch that was slow and helpful for spinners. However, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar set the tone with brilliant, probing spells that restricted New Zealand to 27/1 in the first 10, the lowest score in the first Power Play this World Cup. Bumrah had a first spell of 4-1-10-1, Bhuvneshwar 5-1-13-0.

Williamson and Henry Nicholls rebuilt with a steady 68-run stand for the second wicket before Ravindra Jadeja bowled Nicholls. Batting wasn’t easy – there was turn, bounce and variable pace and New Zealand played out a period of 13.3 overs without a boundary at one stage with Williamson knocking it around and Taylor struggling for momentum. Williamson went past his 50 off 79 balls, and fell just when he was looking for an acceleration. He looked to hit Chahal over extra cover, but got an edge to point.

Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme couldn’t provide big finishes as India’s bowlers – Pandya, Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah – used their cutters and slower balls to take pace off. Jadeja completed a superb spell of 10-0-34-1.

Taylor was struggling to get going, and was at one stage 36 off 64. He also had a reprieve when MS Dhoni dropped a tough low chance when on 22. He took the attack to Chahal in an 18-run 44th over but just when he seemed to get into rhythm, rain arrived.

It could still be a tricky chase for India given the wicket is slow.

India vs New Zealand | Jadeja & Bhuvneshwar Ju…

Manchester: India had to make two big decisions on their bowling combination going into the semifinal against New Zealand. As Virat Kohli said on the eve of the game, decision making had to be spot on as there are no second chances in knockouts.

India got that spot on, retaining Bhuvneshwar Kumar over Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja over Kuldeep Yadav. It made their batting longer, but more importantly, they picked a bowling unit that suited the conditions.

There were a few eyebrows raised when Kohli confirmed at the toss that Bhuvneshwar was picked ahead of Shami. Bhuvneshwar conceded 73 runs in the previous game, and had not picked a wicket in his first spells throughout the tournament.

Shami, on the other hand, had 14 wickets from just four games and struck with the new ball in every game barring the one against England, where he was unfortunate not to have edges going to slips or stumps. Shami’s death bowling was a concern – he went for plenty in that phase in his last two games – but his new-ball wickets were invaluable.

But overhead conditions demanded India to make the tough call of picking Bhuvneshwar, who has been backed as the ‘first-choice’ by the team management in white-ball cricket. The sky was overcast in the morning, and with rain forecast for the afternoon, it was prudent to stick to Bhuvneshwar irrespective of whether India batted or bowled first.

Bhuvneshwar didn’t take too long to show why. His very first ball troubled Martin Guptill, although that’s not a very tough thing to do going by the opener’s form these days. India ended up losing a review for an lbw call, but Bhuvneshwar seemed in good rhythm beginning with a maiden.

At the other end, Jasprit Bumrah was just being Jasprit Bumrah. Getting the ball to kick on from length and back of length and nipping in and out. Guptill and Henry Nicholls struggled, before Guptill eventually nicked him to slip for a 14-ball 1. Bumrah set such high standards that he chided himself for overpitching one ball that Nicholls drove to the boundary. It was the first boundary of the innings and came in the eighth over. Despite that, his first spell was 4-1-10-1.

Crucially for India, Bhuvneshwar too backed up Bumrah with tight lines and lengths. He was wayward against Sri Lanka, conceding 36 runs in his first five overs. Here, he was back to his own self, with an opening spell that read 5-1-13-0. The new-ball wicket didn’t come, but Bhuvneshwar’s rhythm did. Together, the two pacers restricted New Zealand to 27 for 1 in the first 10, the lowest total in the first Power Play in the World Cup.

The other crucial decision was retaining Jadeja to separate the two wrist spinners – Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal. Jadeja has been in the limelight over the last week for various reasons, but proved once again that he can do the job for the team.

This was the ideal wicket for Jadeja, and India realised that. He struggles on flat pitches as he hardly turns the ball and becomes too predictable. But here, the batsmen had to be on their toes as the turn, bounce and pace was not easy to judge. Jadeja stayed accurate as always, bowling on the stumps, getting one ball to turn big and another to go straight. In the past, Jadeja has said even he doesn’t know which ones turn and which don’t. That was on display on Tuesday again.

Jadeja broke the 68-run second wicket stand between Kane Williamson and Nicholls with one such ball that turned in just about enough to bowl Nicholls. He had begun slightly expensive, conceding 13 in his first two with Nicholls sweeping him. But the wicket turned things around as he bossed the middle overs bowling to the two right-handers Williamson and Ross Taylor.

Jadeja bowled an eight over spell in the middle overs, during which New Zealand went 13.3 overs without a boundary. He eventually ended with 1 for 34 from his 10, justifying his selection even as a pure bowler.

India overall read the wicket well, with their pacers resorting to cutters and slower balls, regularly banging the ball onto the slow pitch. The batsmen, Taylor in particular, struggled to connect or generate pace with their cross batted heaves.

The one slight disappointment though, was Chahal. The legspinner came back in place of Kuldeep, as he should have. Chahal was in wicket-taking form, and New Zealand’s two key batsmen were the right-handed Williamson and Taylor. Kohli said they were the key wickets India had to target.

Chahal began with five wides down leg side, and couldn’t make complete use of the pitch although it was slow. The batsmen just knocked him around, before Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme plundered 18 in his final over. On this pitch, Chahal would be disappointed with figures of 10-0-63-1.

India will be pleased to have restricted New Zealand to 211 for 5 in 46.1 overs before rain arrived. But New Zealand will not be feeling too bad either, given the nature of the pitch and presence of a set batsman in Taylor. The game is set up nicely for the reserve day.