Navdeep Saini’s exceptional 45-run knock helped India bounce back in the second ODI in Auckland on Saturday, which the visitors subsequently lost by 22 runs. Chasing a stiff 274, the Men In Blue were reduced to 153/7 in 31.1 overs. However, Saini stitched a crucial 76-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja for the eighth wicket, making the contest wide open.
This was Saini’s first opportunity with the bat in an ODI and the cricketer, who has garnered a good reputation for his clinical speed and yorkers, showcased his abilities by batting at a strike-rate of over 90. His 45-run innings included five fours and two sixes. This was also the second-highest partnership for the eighth wicket by an Indian pair against the Kiwis in ODIs.
Navdeep Saini’s 45 (49 balls) today is his highest score in any class of cricket. His previous highest was the 42* (42 balls) he made for Delhi against Orissa at Feroz Shah Kotla in Jan 2015 in the #RanjiTrophy.#INDvsNZ #IndvNZ #NZvsIND #NZvIND
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) February 8, 2020
Just before his dismissal, Saini smashed Kyle Jamieson for a maximum leaving everyone, including skipper Virat Kohli amazed. However, in the very next delivery, the 27-year-old was bowled by the Kiwi debutant, pushing the contest back in the favor of hosts.
Speaking during the post-match presentation the Indian skipper lauded Saini’s performance with the bat and said, “We didn’t know how good Saini could be with the bat, so if the lower order could be that good, then it inspires the middle order and the top order to step it up too.”
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 8, 2020
After Saini’s dismissal, Yuzvendra Chahal showed some resistance in the middle and added a quick 22 with Jadeja, before being run-out on 10 off 12 balls. New Zealand eventually wrapped up India in the 49th over.
This was Team India’s first series defeat across all formats post the World Cup held in England.