India put pressure on New Zealand after Azharuddin's timely return to form

Read the article of India put pressure on New Zealand after Azharuddin's timely return to form - Benson & Hedges World Series Cup one-day international tournament of the 10th ODI match played between New Zealand and India at Adelaide Oval in 25th January 1986.

THE POISED, precocious Mohammed Azharuddin made a timely return to form as India gained an important victory over New Zealand in the World Series Cup competition at Adelaide Oval.

Azharuddin, 22, scored a flawless, undefeated 69 to steer India to a five wicket win and push them one point clear of New Zealand on the Cup table. They now have six points from seven matches and tomorrow play Australia - who have nine points from six outings.

If New Zealand cannot rally against the Australians on Monday, India will be favoured to qualify for the lucrative finals next month. New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney summed it up last night when he said: "Really, it has got to the stage where I want Australia to win, and I don't often feel like that."

In pursuit of a modest 173 at 3.46 an over, Azharuddin, with a little help from Dilip Vengsarkar and Ashok Malhotra, hauled India from the mire of 3-26 in the 13th over. Despite struggling against New Zealand's batting hero, Richard Hadlee, and his new ball partner Ewen Chatfield, India eventually won with four overs to spare.

Azharuddin, who made such a spectacular start to his international career against England in 1984, has not had a happy tour.. Indeed, in recent days, both his captain, Kapil Dev, and team-manager, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, have said his indifferent form was one of the main reasons for India's unconvincing performances in the competition.

Perhaps their observations stung him into action, for he played with all his flair and confidence. The crowd of 8,782 were thrilled by the youngster's eight boundaries, most of them struck between cover point and straight hit.
Azharuddin gained in confidence as his innings progressed.

He dramatically increased the strike rate after a slow start and, with the help of Malhotra (33 from 54 balls), added 73 for the fifth wicket to ensure India of victory.From the outset the
Indians played with aggression and enterprise, determined to re-establish their reputation as the world's premier limited-over team.

In the end, they achieved their goal quite satisfactorily despite the whole-hearted efforts of Hadlee, Chatfield and medium-pacer Stuart Gillespie. It was Hadlee's defiant and beautifully controlled innings of 71 that prevented New Zealand from being totally humiliated. Apart from his efforts, only Martin Crowe, who has been in wonderful touch throughout the summer, bettered 20 in the New Zealand innings.

However, Hadlee should not have been allowed to prosper. He was dropped by Krish Srikkanth at mid-wicket when trying to loft orthodox left-arm spinner Ravi Shastri over the fence.
It proved a critical lapse and the Indians paid dearly.