Chennai: Yuvraj Singh nonchalantly swung his bat across the line to a length delivery from Vettori and the ball crashed into the crowds for a six. That moment screamed out that Yuvraj Singh is back. In the 10th over, Yuvraj Singh had walked to the middle to a massive ovation marking his comeback; cricket took a backseat for that moment.
After 40 overs though, it was New Zealand who triumphed over the fancied Indians by just 1 run. Set a target of 168, India managed 166. James Franklin bowled the final over conceding 11 runs, as India needed 13. Ross Taylor raced towards Franklin and lifted him like a rugby player, they were jubilant to register a victory in the series but even they would have thought of Yuvraj’s triumph against life for a moment on the field.
Yuvraj was all set for a fairytale ending. He had valiantly scored 34 runs off 26 balls. Last over remained and 13 runs were needed. Franklin had the ball, he conceded a single in the first ball, Dhoni wildly got the second for a boundary. Franklin bowled a wide next up. Dhoni took a single then. Franklin bowled a slower one, Yuvraj went way too early with the shot, stumps rattled, the fairytale came to an end. A valiant effort from the left-hander, he left the field as a winner. 6 runs were needed off the last two balls, Rohit Sharma tried to go for the maximum on both the occasions and ended getting two doubles. Franklin finished his quota of overs with figures of 4-0-26-2 and an economy rate of 6.50 RPO. India finished with 166, 1 run short of the Kiwis total and 2 short of the target.
On the backdrop of Yuvraj’s comeback match Brendon McCullum cut loose on the Indians, particularly on Ashwin, hammering a 55-ball 91 to power New Zealand to 167 in a tricky Chennai track after being put into bat by MS Dhoni.
Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan had removed the openers Rob Nicol (0) and Martin Guptill (1) within the first two overs. McCullum, who came one down and Kane Williamson got the Kiwis going with a 90-run partnership in 11 overs.
McCullum came to the crease with his dancing shoes on and he danced down the track more often than not to heave the spinners out of the park. Ross Taylor (25*) then joined McCullum in the middle but took time to get his eyes in.
Irfan Pathan scalped McCullum courtesy a left-arm orthodox off-spin ball that had the Kiwi batsman playing all around it. New Zealand managed 167.
In reply, in the absence of Viru, Virat Kohli opened the innings and launched into his free flowing form almost immediately. By the fifth over, Kohli had five boundaries to his name as Gambhir departed cheaply. Raina came into the middle and a partnership of 60 with Kohli put India on course to a comfortable victory. Raina departed for 27 in the 11th over as Yuvraj walked in. A fairytale saga awaited its perfect ending. That sixer off Vettori reaffirmed the ending.
But, in the 13th over Taylor introduced James Franklin, out of compulsion as a collision led to strike bowler Kyle Mills off the field. Franklin picked up Kohli (70) against the run of play in his first over and conceded just 5 runs. With all eyes solely on Yuvraj, Dhoni’s struggle in the middle went unnoticed. Next over, Vettori conceded just 5 runs. At that time 39 runs were needed off 30 balls.
The next three overs yielded just 14 runs. Yuvraj flicked one over square leg for a massive six off Oram in the penultimate over to raise the Indian hopes. But that final yielded for just 11 runs.
Brendon McCullum was adjudged man of the match and man of the series.