After Munaf Patel bowled two beamers in the 45th over,umpire Rudi Koertzen ordered his immediate ejection from the attack. Without much debate,Munaf took his pullover back,put it on and moved away.
It was that kind of a game for the bowlers. With 32 sixes and 64 fours being hit on a day,and 726 runs scored,the bowlers would have loved to keep a distance from the flat track in the middle of a fast outfield with short square boundaries.
Unlike in Wellington,the capacity Sunday crowd here didnt feel pinched,for they got much more than their moneys worth. However,one did need a strong pinch to realise that one was in a country which was once a fast bowlers paradise. Indias 58-run win on Sunday not only ended the debate about the team with the upper hand in the series,it also shattered the myth about New Zealands seam-friendly pitches.
It was a rare day when nine batsmen scored at a 100-plus strike rate and no target seemed safe. Even after India had scored 392,New Zealand were in the hunt for most part of the day. Two big partnerships,separated by a free fall of wickets,meant New Zealand seemed just a few bad overs away from reaching the seemingly impossible target.
Openers Jesse Ryder (80-ball 105) and Brendon McCullum (68-ball 71) together scored 166 off just 22 overs and a late-order charge by Kyle Mills (32-ball 54) almost made up for what had been a forgettable first half for the visitors. Daniel Vettoris absence and stand-in skipper McCullums decision to field were two distinct disadvantages,still New Zealand almost pulled the rug from under Indias feet.
In the final analysis,it was clear that India were better suited for the batting-friendly wicket. Virender Sehwags early wicket was a temporary relief as New Zealand got a first-hand feel of the depth in the Indian batting line-up.
Besides Sachin Tendulkar,who made an unbeaten 163,there were several other worthy contributors. Yuvraj Singh (87) and MS Dhoni (68) worked around Tendulkar to take care of the middle overs,while Suresh Rainas late assault 38 off just 18 balls,with five sixes took India near 400.
The visitors judicious use of the batting power play also helped. Soon after Vettoris replacement,offie Jeetan Patel,had bowled his first over,India opted for the field restriction. Tendulkar,later,explained the game plan. We wanted Patel to bowl towards the end and change their plan. I am sure their fast bowlers were caught off guard. India plundered 69 runs between the 22nd and 27th over.
The abdomen injury forced Tendulkar to miss the rare chance to score a double hundred but Mt 392 stood at the picturesque AMI Stadium with hills in the background. As New Zealand leave for Hamilton,theyll be hoping that in the plains of Northern Island,they dont encounter run mountains.