The 4-1 scoreline is the best that India have achieved in New Zealand across formats since they stated touring the country in 1967.India claimed their biggest series win on New Zealand soil, overcoming a disastrous start to earn a hard fought 35-run win in the fifth ODI here Sunday.
At 18 for four, India were heading towards another sub-100 total before the middle-order batsmen fought back to post a fighting total of 252. The 98-run stand for the fifth wicket between Ambati Rayudu (90 off 113) and Vijay Shankar (45 off 64) was the highlight of the middle-order fight back.
The visiting team made three changes in the playing eleven. A fit again Dhoni was back in the team in place of Dinesh Karthik while Mohammad Shami and Shankar replaced Khaleel Ahmed and Kuldeep Yadav. The chinaman bowler was rested from the game.
At the toss, skipper Rohit Sharma called the eight wicket loss in the previous game ‘humiliating’ and embraced the challenge of batting on a testing surface by opting to bat.
The ball swung at the Westpac Stadium, like it did at Hamilton, and troubled the Indian batsmen, including the experienced opening pair of Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan. Boult, who took five wickets on Thursday, and Henry swung the ball at express pace and shared two wickets each to leave India reeling at 18 for four in seven overs.
With top-four falling cheaply, it looked Rohit’s brave call backfired but Rayudu and Shankar produced an innings-reviving stand under immense pressure.
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It was a combination of top-class fast bowling and questionable shot selection that led to the top-order failure.
Rohit (2) was outdone by a beauty from Henry, the one that moved away from the middle stump line to dislodge the off-stump. Dhoni (1), playing Sunday’s match after the missing the last two games due to injury, was bowled by Boult, off a peach of a delivery that swung back sharp and late to take the Indian wicketkeeper’s off-stump.
On the other hand, Dhawan (6) slashed one hard to be caught at third man while the young Shubman Gill (7), getting his second game of the series, scooped a simple catch to the cover fielder.
Just when India looked down in the dumps, Rayudu and and Shankar showed admirable fight to weather the storm and lead India’s recovery. Initially in the partnership, Shankar looked more comfortable while Rayudu focused on blocking.
It was unfortunate for Shankar to miss out on a well-deserved fifty as he got run out after a mix-up with Rayudu.
Rayudu at the other end began to play his strokes and hammered Colin de Grandhomme for two consecutive boundaries to bring up his 10th ODI fifty. A little later, he smashed Colin Munro for successive sixes before he perished while trying to hit another one out of the park. Rayudu’s crucial knock comprised eight fours and four sixes.
Pandya then took the centrestage after Rayudu’s fall and once again showed what he brings to the table late the innings.
Pandya’s brute power was on full display when he whacked leggie Todd Astle for three sixes in as many balls. The all-rounder did not even spare the in-form Boult, pulling him over mid-wicket for another maximum. His cameo included two fours and five sixes
Boult, who took five wickets on Thursday, and Henry swung the ball at express pace and shared two wickets each to leave India reeling at 18 for four in seven overs.