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Sehwag Shines Through Gloom To No Avail

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sehwag Shines Through Gloom To No Avail

Wellington, March 6 NZPA - Through the murkiness and gloom there were still moments of alarming clarity for New Zealand's cricketers as the second one-day international against India ended in familiar circumstances at Westpac Stadium tonight.

Only one of seven ODIs staged this summer -- the match here against the West Indies in January -- has not been disrupted by rain and tonight the capital joined Queenstown and Auckland as hosting an abandonment.

Four others have been decided on the Duckworth/Lewis method and had those calculations been applied, as they were in Napier on Tuesday night, the equation would have inevitably favoured the visitors.

Any hope of an intriguing contest dissolved as forecast showers duly arrived to stymie India's vow to score at least 300 in each innings remaining in the five-match ODI series.

They had to settle for 188 for four in 28.4 overs but a star-studded batting line-up still made a point as the New Zealand attack was routinely flayed to all points of a damp outfield.

After being collared for 273 from 38 overs in game one -- in what Daniel Vettori hoped was an aberration -- Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar took turns inflicting mental anguish by way of boundaries.

"The bowlers showed a slight improvement, probably to the other batsmen apart from Sehwag," captain Daniel Vettori admitted. "We were reasonably disciplined .... but still, we've got a lot of work to do on him."

Sehwag's standard pummelling of the new ball meant for once it was actually preferable for New Zealand to run in to Tendulkar until he too duly accelerated in the swirling drizzle.

It was Sehwag who bullishly suggested pre-match his side was capable of eclipsing 300 runs at every turn and had the weather forecast not held true his confidence would almost certainly been justified.

India were scorching along at 130 for one in the 19th over when the rain first stemmed the run flow and in the five overs available before the ground staff were summoned a second time they lost Sachin Tendulkar (61) and Yuvraj Singh (0) six balls apart.

India's innings was initially trimmed to 44 overs, then 38, 34 and finally 28.4 to defuse a concerted hitting display that resumes in game three in Christchurch on Sunday -- weather permitting.

On cue, Sehwag carried out another morale-sapping assault on a pace attack again guilty of bowling too short or wide to one of the game's most punishing strokemakers.

Kyle Mills, whose seven overs in Napier cost 69, was savaged again by the right hander who hooked, pulled and drove four boundaries from the seamer's third over -- a scoring sequence that ended the world's third-ranked ODI bowler's opening spell.

Sehwag then preyed on Iain O'Brien, clubbing a four and a six in two balls as India reached 50 off 44 balls.

Tendulkar was a virtual observer, contributing just nine of the half century stand as Sehwag took complete control despite being hampered by a calf strain.

He reached his half century off a mere 32 deliveries courtesy of a thunderous cover drive, his ninth boundary, as India reached 65 off the first 10 overs.

It took an umpiring blunder to end Sehwag's belligerent 52 from 36 balls, New Zealand's Evan Watkin adjudging him caught behind by stand-in wicketkeeper Peter McGlashan although the ball clipped the front pad.

Ian Butler's desperate appeal was upheld, giving New Zealand some fortunate respite.

The severity of Sehwag's assault meant Vettori delayed his bowling power play until New Zealand's nemesis departed in the 13th over -- though Tendulkar then put his feet down.

He had a life on 22 when he was dropped by Mills leaping at mid-on and celebrated the let-off by depositing Butler's next ball into the stands backward of square.

Tendulkar then pushed a delightful off drive to the cover rope as Butler belatedly incurred India's wrath after his first four overs cost a respectable 10. He ended with one for 38 from seven.

Tendulkar brought up his 91st ODI half century with a crisp drive off Jacob Oram.

However, the introduction of Vettori straight after the first rain break lifted his side's flagging spirits when a sweeping Tendulkar missed, and was plumb leg before wicket to the captain's ninth ball for 61.

Six balls later Mills finally experienced some overdue joy when he dismissed Yuvraj for a four-ball duck, caught by Ross Taylor low down at first slip.

Indian captain Dhoni was relaxed despite a potential 2-0 series lead ebbing away.

"It was frustrating but the weather's uncontrollable unless you have an indoor stadium.

"I don't know if we would have won but we were in a good position if it was a 50 over game."

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