As Virat Kohli crashed Tim Southee between point and cover for a four to bring up his 18th ODI hundred, 12th in a chase, a software that the broadcasters have introduced, WASP, which predicts the batting side’s winning percentage, said India had just 25.
WASP factors in the situation of the game plus the team’s last five years’ record before making a forecast. The math seemed wrong, however, for if WASP does consider history, it seemed to have ignored a very significant piece of statistic about Kohli — that, before Sunday, whenever he had scored a hundred in a chase, India had won that match. Moreover, the visitors, chasing 292, were 190/4 in the 38th over, with Kohli having for company one of the game’s finest finishers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, batting on 20.
Against these facts, the odds given looked outrageous. And this conviction grew as the duo plundered their way through the batting powerplay overs and beyond to take the team to 223 for four in 42 overs.
Eventually, however, WASP’s prediction turned out to be as spot on as Sunday’s weather forecast of a balmy afternoon in Napier, as India incredibly went on to lose the match by 24 runs.
What turned the tide in New Zealand’s favour was what had seemed to be their misfortune. In the 41th over, tearaway Adam Milne picked up a back injury and hobbled off, leaving New Zealand with one bowling option less. New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum had to bring in Mitchell McClenaghan.
In his 19-match career, the 27-year-old left-arm pacer has made a reputation of giving Black Caps crucial breakthroughs. He unleashed a well directed bouncer at Dhoni, who tried to pull it only to top-edge it, and wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi took a diving catch to his left.
McClenaghan then removed Ravindra Jadeja caught-behind in the same over, before returning to claim Kohli’s prized scalp in the 44th over. Having been hit for a four by the Delhi batsmen, McClenaghan came around the wicket and delivered a full toss. Kohli’s eyes must have lit up as he looked to crash the ball through covers once again. However, he shot right into the hands of Jesse Ryder.
It was redemption of sorts for Ryder, for he had dropped the batsman when he was at 95.
As Kohli trudged back, McLean Park, which first sighed in relief, then gave him a standing ovation. At the same time, the DJ, who had been alternating between English and Hindi songs playing everything from Dire Straits to Honey Singh, often ill-timed, put on a rather obscure number from Company. “…Nahi dooja mauka milega, continued…