PUNE: Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik fired India to a comfortable six-wicket win over New Zealand after a pitch-tampering storm threatened the second one-day international in Pune on Wednesday.
Dhawan scored a classy 68 and Karthik notched an unbeaten 64 as India made 232-4 to clinch victory with 24 balls to spare and level the three-match ODI series 1-1.
The match had looked to be under threat after a groundsman at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) stadium told undercover journalists that he had doctored the pitch before the game.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) dismissed Pandurang Salgaoncar, the pitch manager at the Pune ground, after he described to India Today TV reporters, who were posing as bookies, how he had tampered with the surface.
“The BCCI has zero tolerance towards any activity that brings the game into disrepute,” Amitabh Choudhary, the BCCI’s acting honorary secretary, said in a statement.
The International Cricket Council said that it had launched an investigation into the pitch tampering claims “to establish the facts”.
Another curator was swiftly drafted in before match referee Chris Broad inspected the pitch and gave the game the go-ahead to start on schedule.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bat as the visitors looked to clinch the series with a victory following their six-wicket win in the opening ODI in Mumbai on Sunday.
India had other ideas though and restricted the Kiwis to 230-9.
Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed three wickets while paceman Jasprit Bumrah and spinner Yuzvendra Chahal chipped in with two each.
Henry Nicholls top-scored for New Zealand with 42 while skipper Williamson’s miserable series continued, adding just three runs to the six he made on Sunday.
Left-hander Dhawan hit five fours and two sixes during his 84-ball knock before driving straight at Ross Taylor at cover for a simple catch off Adam Milne.
New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee had earlier claimed the wicket of Indian opener Rohit Sharma for just seven runs while Indian captain Virat Kohli made 29.
The right-handed Karthik hit four fours, including the last shot of the game which took India past the 231-mark required to win.
“We spoke about needing to bounce back, and we’ve done that,” said a delighted Kohli who hailed Dhawan and Karthik.
“Shikhar has been hitting the ball really well and he’s getting good runs at the top. Dinesh as well, getting crucial runs for himself and for the team,” the skipper added.
Williamson blamed a poor batting performance, particularly from those at the top of the order, for the comprehensive defeat.
“We weren’t good enough at the top. We know we have to play a lot better to beat these guys,” he said.
“We came here with high hopes. We put a much better performance in Mumbai and we need to be better again in Kanpur,” Williamson added, referring to Sunday’s third and decisive ODI.