3rd ODI: Clinical India outclass New Zealand to clinch series

A formidable Indian team completely dominated an out of sorts NZ for a series-clinching seven-wicket win in the third ODI.

IANS/PTI

A formidable Indian team completely dominated an out of sorts New Zealand for a series-clinching seven-wicket win in the third ODI, continuing to send a resounding message of its near invincibility to every World Cup opposition.

With an unassailable lead in the five-match series, skipper Virat Kohli signed off his tour Down Under on a high with a first ODI series win in New Zealand in 10 years. However, it is to be noted that prior to this, India played just one series here since the one in 2009.

It was a complete team effort after the bowlers shot New Zealand out for 243 in 49 overs with all-rounder Hardik Pandya (2/45 in 10 overs) making his presence felt with the ball as well as on the field. Pandya was playing his first match after the suspension on him for sexist remarks on a TV show was lifted.

The chase was a cakewalk with skipper Kohli (60, 74 balls) and his deputy Rohit Sharma (62, 77 balls) adding 113 runs for the second wicket to set up the victory in only 43 overs.

With the pitch on the slower side, the two fluent stroke-players had to keep it slower than usual but even that didn't come in the way of another comprehensive performance.

Once Shikhar Dhawan (28, 6x4) was dismissed, caught in the slips off Trent Boult, Rohit, who till then went slow, finally opened up. 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, than hit a front-foot pull off the bowler for his second six.

His skipper also got a six off Ferguson even though he was not in complete control as the ball flew off the top edge.

Rohit, who now has 39 half-centuries, was stumped off Santner's bowling, when he tried to go for an ugly hoick. His innings had three boundaries and two sixes.

Kohli, who now has 49 half-centuries in ODIs, also hit six fours apart from the the six off Ferguson.

Just when a 40th ODI ton was looking imminent, Kohli's uppish drive off Boult failed to clear Henry Nicholls at extra cover.

However, Dinesh Karthik (38, 38 balls) and Ambati Rayudu (40, 42 balls) did their cause no harm with an unbroken 77-run stand for the fourth wicket to steer the team home.

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.

Pandya delivered figures of two for 45 in 10 overs and choked the run flow during the middle overs.

Skipper Kohli's stand on the kind of balance that the Baroda all-rounder brings to the side stood vindicated during another controlled bowling effort by the visitors.

Earlier, Pacer Mohammed Shami starred with the ball taking three wickets helping India overcome veteran Ross Taylor's defiant 93 and restricting New Zealand to a below-par 243 in the crucial third ODI at the Bay Oval here on Monday.

The former New Zealand skipper stood out with a 106-ball 93, laced with 9 boundaries to anchor the Kiwi innings that once again crumbled in good batting conditions.

Besides Taylor, wicketkeeper Tom Latham contributed with a 64-ball 51, laced with a boundary and a six, even as the rest of the Kiwi batting looked pedestrian against the disciplined Indian bowling attack.

Electing to bat on a slow track, New Zealand once again lost the early momentum after losing both openers -- Colin Munro (7) and Martin Guptill (13) in the first power play, to the pace duo of Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, respectively.

Skipper Kane Williamson (28) joined forces with Taylor to steady the ship with a brief 33-run third wicket stand, but the former succumbed to a blinder of a catch by comeback man Hardik Pandya off leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, while trying to break the shackles.

Taylor continued in his customary fashion, meddling the odd ball to the boundary while trying to build a partnership with the stumper Latham, who supported the veteran well by keeping the scoreboard ticking.

The fourth wicket partnership between Taylor and Latham flourished to 119, before Chahal was brought back and the wrist spinner responded in style by dismissing Latham, caught by Ambati Rayudu at deep midwicket.

At 178/4 and with Taylor getting to another half century, New Zealand were on track but Pandya removed Henry Nicholls (6) and Mitchell Santner (3) in similar fashion, caught behind by Dinesh Karthik to reduce the hosts to 198/6.

Taylor, who by now had reached the nervous 90s was eager to get to the three figure mark briskly and up the ante but the right-hander's plans were dashed by Shami, who got his victim caught behind.

India, thereafter did not allow the Kiwi tail to wag this time around and skipper Virat Kohli quickly made up for dropping Ish Sodhi (12) off Shami, by comfortably latching on to the New Zealand leggie off the same bowler in the same over.

Kohli immediately ran Doug Bracewell (15) out before Bhuvneshwar came back to pack off Trent Boult (2) to end the Kiwi innings in the penultimate over of the innings.

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