India captain Virat kohli signed off his tour Down Under on a high with a first ODI series win in New Zealand in ten years.
A formidable performance from India helped crush an out-of-sorts New Zealand by seven wickets for a series-clinching win in the third ODI at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
It was a complete team effort after the bowlers got New Zealand out for 243 in 49 overs with all-rounder Hardik Pandya (2/45) making his presence felt with the ball as well as on the field. Pandya was playing his first match after his suspension for sexist remarks on a TV show was lifted.
The chase was a cakewalk with skipper Kohli (60, 74b) and his deputy Rohit Sharma (62, 77b) adding 113 runs for the second wicket to set up the victory in only 43 overs.
A slower-than-usual pitch wasn't a hindrance in the way of a comprehensive performance from the two fluent stroke-players. Once Shikhar Dhawan (28, 6x4) was dismissed, caught in the slips off Trent Boult, Rohit let loose. He signalled his intentions with a straight six off Mitchell Santner.
Kohli, at the other end, punched Lockie Ferguson through the point and then hit Ish Sodhi for two boundaries. The first was a top spinner that was pulled in the mid-wicket region while the next was a wrong ‘un on the fifth stump which he cut for another boundary. Rohit, who has treated Ferguson with a lot of disdain, then hit a front-foot pull off the bowler for his second six.
Rohit was stumped off Santner’s bowling, when he tried to go for an ugly hoick. Kohli, for whom a 40th ODI ton was looking imminent, was dismissed by Trent Boult when an uppish drive failed to clear Henry Nicholls at extra cover. However, Dinesh Karthik (38, 38b) and Ambati Rayudu (40, 42b) saw India through with an unbroken 77-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Earlier, during New Zealand innings, Pandya seemed unfazed by the tribulations of the past few weeks and made a significant contribution to India’s impressive bowling effort, choking the run flow during the middle overs.
Save the 119-run fourth wicket stand between Ross Taylor (93, 106b) and Tom Latham (51, 64b), New Zealand couldn’t really accelerate against the Indian attack on a pitch that was a touch slower compared to the second ODI.
Mohammed Shami (3/41 in 9 overs), who has all but sealed the third seamer’s spot for the World cup, once again provided the initial breakthrough as Colin Munro (7) edged one to Rohit in the slip cordon.
Martin Guptill (13) then got a delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/46 in 9 overs), which moved a shade after pitching. The resultant nick was taken by Dinesh Karthik, replacing an injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni (hamstring) behind the stumps.
Kane Williamson’s (28) bane in the series has been not capitalising on good starts and it was no different in this game either with Pandya coming into the focus with an impressive catch at the mid-wicket off Yuzvendra Chahal (2/51 in 9 overs). Chahal shortened the length as Williamson came out. The home batsman couldn’t control his flick shot and an agile Pandya did the rest.
The next match is in Hamilton on January 31.