brendon does it again

When the match ended off the final ball of the day,two elder brothers were put in contrasting sibling situations. Nathan McCullum....

Written by Sandeep Dwivedi | Wellington | Published:February 28, 2009 2:26 am

When the match ended off the final ball of the day,two elder brothers were put in contrasting sibling situations. Nathan McCullum,after an obligatory tap to complete the winning run,rushed over to younger brother and hero of the day Brendon with a ‘we did it’ shout. At around the same time,Yusuf Pathan gingerly walked up towards Irfan,who had bowled the final over,wondering,perhaps,how to word his ‘it happens’ consolations.

New Zealand needed 12 runs off the final over,the equation that came down to a thrilling ‘one ball,one run’ scenario. Irfan surprised the batsman with a short ball,and Brendon McCullum’s attempted pull skewed off the blade. Unfortunately for him,with the field coming in to stop any possibility of a single,the ball ballooned just over a diving Rohit Sharma’s outstretched fingers.

It has been that kind of a series for India. As the focus moves to the ODI series,India’s T20 post-mortem will include too many ‘what ifs’ — starting with ‘What if Virender Sehwag had lasted longer after he hit three sixes off the first three balls he faced in Christchurch’ and ending with ‘What if Rohit was standing a couple of steps back for the last ball’.

Skipper MS Dhoni sounded positive despite the 2-0 scoreline,and was proud of the fact that his side fought hard to take the game down to the wire despite putting up just 149 runs on the board. But Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori didn’t have to put on his reading glasses and check the details of the scoreboard to feel elated. With the five-wicket win following the seven-wicket triumph at Christchurch,the results were an indicator that the Kiwis hadn’t just struck early,but also got their noses in front for the rest of the trip.

If India were too aggressive in the opening game,on Friday they seemed too cautious. Before these two games,the biggest threat for New Zealand from the Indian camp came from their free-stroking openers. But the New Zealand bowlers have got the better of them in both matches. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have given a glimpse of what they are capable of,but in Iain O’Brien New Zealand have found a pacer who shouldn’t be overawed by them in the ODI series.

The Indian pacers too arrived on these shores with a massive reputation,but as Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum put on a match-defining opening partnership of 53 in 4.4 overs — shared by Zaheer Khan,Irfan and Ishant Sharma — the Kiwi dressing room would have felt happy that they could take them on. The big positive for India has been Harbhajan Singh’s effectiveness,but at least in the T20s,he was nullified by the outstanding show of Vettori himself. McCullum swept his second straight Man of the Match award for the unbeaten 69.

Dhoni isn’t wrong when he says that the twin losses shouldn’t affect the morale of his team too much,but there is no denying the fact that this start has provided the hosts with some spark. Mishaps happen all the time in the unpredictable world of Twenty20,but India have to ensure that the trend stops right here.

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