Chayan Rastogi/Zeecric Bureau
Bengaluru: If it was the top-order batsmen who made all headlines with their performance in the first three matches of the series, it was the turn of middle-order batsmen on Tuesday to sail India out of danger of losing the match and swelling series lead to 4-0 in the five match series.
Yusuf Pathan, India’s most loved number 7 batsman, turned it on for India when many thought it was all over for home team with four top-order batsmen already in the hut and more than 200 runs needed for the victory.
Yusuf`s brutal hitting which consisted of seven meaty boundaries and seven gigantic sixes all over the Chinnaswamy Stadium, single-handedly stole the victory from New Zealand.
The fashion in which Yusuf went about his game is evident by the fact that he raised to both his fifty and hundred with towering sixes.
Yusuf first added 80 runs for the fifth wicket with Rohit Sharma to put Indian chase on track and then with Saurabh Tiwary added match-winning 133 runs for the sixth wicket to seal the chase.
Indian reply to NZ score of 315 runs lost way near the 20th over when they lost four top-order batsmen as New Zealand spinners varied their pace effectively and troubled Indian top-order.
Yuvraj Singh was the third Indian wicket to fall in the Indian chase when he was caught at short mid-wicket by Jamiw How of the bowling of McCullum.
McCullum then trapped Parthiv Patel in flight after the southpaw completed his first fifty in ODI to put India some instant pressure.
Rohit and Yusuf then batted sensibly to calm some nerves but just when Rohit (44) was looking for a big score, he threw his wicket smashing a slower-one from Tim Southee down to Vettori’s throat at mid-off.
Coming into this match with back to back tons, Indian skipper Gautam Gambhir found an able ally in Parthiv Patel this time to put Indian chase on track as India whips past 50 runs in 7.4 overs without loss.
Kiwi fast bowler Andy McKay brought New Zealand right into the match as the bowler dismissed both in-form batsmen- Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli- in an over to dismantle India’s chase.
Earlier, James Franklin became New Zealand’s unlikely saviour when he put Indian bowling attack to sword in the death overs to help New Zealand post a big target of 315 runs to defend under lights in the 4th ODI being played here.
Franklin (98 not out) batted impressively and placed his innings beautifully without taking too much of risks. Cautious in early part of the innings and brutal later, Franklin completed his fifty in 51 balls but then plundered next 48 runs in next 18 balls to give his fellow bowlers enough runs to play with.
Franklin, who added unbeaten 64 runs with Nathan McCullum for the 8th wicket, looted 22 runs in last over of the Kiwi innings by Ashish Nehra and hit 12 boundaries and three towering sixes overall in his knock which will undoubtedly go as his best ODI innings till date.
Before the Franklin’s lethal attack, Indian bowlers picked vital wickets in the middle overs and looked comfortable to check New Zealand’s progress after Kiwis made considerable recovery with decent run rate to make a comeback in the match in which visitors showed clear instincts to dominate Indian bowling attack.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir’s persistence with part-time spinner Yusuf Pathan payed off for the third time when Pathan cleaned up Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills to give India some hope of restricting New Zealand’s late charge.
Vettori (17) came to the crease after the dismissal of Ross Taylor (44) who batted with lot of grit to lead New Zealand’s revival with Scott Styris and James Franklin.
Styris (46) played good counter-attacking cricket but could not convert it into big score as he perished when he mistimed a pull of Pathan to get caught at mid-wicket.
Taylor too departed quickly after Styris dismissal and left New Zealand in trouble but Franklin’s knock eased all the Kiwi concerns thereafter.
Earlier in the day, after being brutally hit out of the park by New Zealand’s aggressive openers, Indian bowlers led by Ashish Nehra and R Ashwin made a brilliant comeback as the duo snapped three quick wickets to derail Kiwi progress and eased out tensions in Indian camp.
Being put into bat under overcast bowling friendly conditions, New Zealand openers Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill made an attacking statement by walking down the track and unsettling the rhythm of pace bowlers.
Guptill (30) looked threatening during his short stay at the crease and cracked five boundaries as New Zealand went past 50 run in 7.4 overs without loss of a wicket.
Nehra, who came in as the second bowling change, was welcomed with two boundaries of his first two balls by Guptill, but eventually had the last smile as he forced the batsman to drive uppishly towards crowded off-side where Yuvraj Singh at covers dived to his left and made no mistake to give New Zealand the first jolt of the day.
Nehra then made a quick work of Jamie How (4) in his next over, as the batsman edged an outswinger to the first slip where it was carefully pouched by Yusuf Pathan.
But the most important breakthrough for India came in the 13th over when off-spinner Ashwin got the prized wicket of big-fish Brendon McCullum and reduced New Zealand to 91 for 3 from 60 for no loss in less than six overs.
McCullum (42), who was declared hundred percent match fit to even keep wickets for his team, belted eight boundaries and a gigantic six in his innings and looked confident for many more.
McCullum was especially more brutal on off-spinner Ashwin but succumbed to a flighted delivery and got caught at short midwicket by Rohit Sharma, where the youngster timed his jump to perfection to pouch a good high-catch.
Earlier, Indian skipper Gautam Gambhir won the toss and elected to field under the favourable overcast conditions.