New Zealand finally sealed their first series win at home in five years, not counting the ones against Zimbabwe and Bangaldesh. They should have won it three nights ago, they should probably have won it more comfortably tonight after having reduced India to 278 and then reached 54 for 0 in seven overs and 188 for 2 in 33. They will be thankful that they had their two most consistent batsmen – Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson in the middle when Ravindra Jadeja started to turn the ball square after he himself gave India a fighting total with 62 off 54, a much more assured innings than the one that tied the previous match to keep India alive.
Williamson now has four half-centuries in four matches in this series, and Taylor made up for missing out on one in Auckland by turning this into a big one once he crossed 50. Taylor’s innings was exceptional in its discipline: he didn’t try his favourite slog-sweep, in fact he scored just 10 runs in his midwicket arc. Most of his runs came behind and in front of square on the off side. India couldn’t be accused of showing similar discipline when they batted, but they were also put under pressure by a superbly disciplined start by Kyle Mills and Tim Southee, which led to their repetition of the shot that has been getting them out. Between them Southee and Mills bowled three maidens, took three wickets, and conceded just 78.
Chasing 279 for victory, the Kiwis reached 280 for three in 48.1 overs with Taylor scoring a match-winning 127-ball 112 not out to take the hosts home with 11 balls to spare.Taylor also shared two important partnerships — first with Kane Williamson (60) putting on 130-run for the third wicket and then with skipper Brendon McCullum (49 not out), an unbroken 92 runs for the fourth wicket.For India, Mohammed Shami (1/61) and Varun Aaron (1/51) were the only wicket-takers but they proved to be extremely expensive. Ravindra Jadeja (0/33) and R Ashwin (0-41) bowled economically, but couldn`t claim a wicket, which proved to be costly. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0/62) too proved to be ineffective. Stuart Binny (0/8) and Ambati Rayudu (0/23) didn`t get second spells.
Earlier, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja had produced magnificent late onslaught after opener Rohit Sharma scored a half-century, to guide India to 278 for five in their allotted 50 overs.In reply, New Zealand got off to a rollicking start with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill mistreating the Indian bowling attack. The two of them scored a flurry of boundaries, especially off Mohammed Shami`s bowling, and together hit 10 fours and a six in their opening stand of 54 runs.But once again Ryder failed to sustain and was bowled in the eight over by first-change Varun Aaron. He scored 19 off 18 balls with four boundaries. Guptill was gone four runs later in the never next over, as Shami extracted his revenge from the opposite end, trapping the Auckland centurion LBW. He scored 35 off 27 balls (6X4, 1X6).
As Taylor and Williamson were scoring heavily, Dhoni brought in Jadeja and Ashwin to put the brakes on the run flow and the two spinners bowled in tandem for 10 overs, giving away only 30 runs.But the medium pacers had to come back into the attack and that once again opened the flood-gates as the next 10 overs yielded 70 runs with Taylor and Williamson putting the chase back on track.Their 50-run partnership off 86 balls had come in the 23rd over as Rayudu bowled some part-time spin.Taylor then brought up his half-century and New Zealand crossed the 150-mark as well. It was Williamson`s turn to celebrate in the next over, scoring his fourth consecutive fifty in the series, and his 10th in ODIs overall.It seemed the chase was dead and buried, but India were given some hope by Jadeja, who ran out Williamson, who once again missed out on a hundred, falling for 60 off 82 balls, with two fours and two sixes.
Only 24 runs came off the powerplay but the hosts were in no hurry, especially Taylor who didn`t hit a single six in his innings, and calmly brought up his ninth ODI hundred in the 43rd over. He faced 110 balls and hit 14 fours, routing any Indian hopes of a comeback in the series.While McCullum was unbeaten on 49 off 36 balls, studded with four boundaries and three sixes, the star of the night, Taylor knock included 15 boundaries. Dhoni had earlier won the toss and opted to bat first, a change from the team`s usual policy in the first three ODIs on this tour. They also made two changes, dropping both Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, and bringing in Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny, who was handed his first ODI cap.The visitors lost their top order quickly, but Rohit rebuilt the innings with a 94-ball 79, before Dhoni (79 not out) and Jadeja (62 not out) put on a fighting 127-run stand for the unbroken sixth wicket.
The tactic worked very well for India as they brought up their 50-run partnership off only 55 balls in the 43rd over, and then Dhoni completed his second consecutive half-century and his 54th in ODIs overall off 58 balls.They made sure that India didn`t lose a wicket for the last 16.5 overs at a run-rate of 7.54 per over, as Dhoni finished the innings off in style, hitting a massive six off Neeshan and staying unbeaten on 79 (73b, six fours, four sixes), while Jadeja was 62 not out (54 balls, eight fours, two sixes).