India pull off the unbelievable; sign off with a fighting win
Wellington: 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.
The 4-1 scoreline is the best that india have achieved in New Zealand across formats since they stated touring the country in 1967.
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.
Hardik Pandya’s 45 off 22 balls also went a long way in India posting a challenging target and his two wickets later on showed why he is such an important member of the team.
New Zealand batsmen, including skipper Kane Williamson (39), squandered their starts in the chase but the home team remained in the contest until Jimmy Neesham (44 off 32) was dismissed in the 37th over.
His freak run out, which was effected by the ever so sharp Mahendra Singh Dhoni from behind the stumps, came after a lbw appeal was turned down. New Zealand eventually ended with 217 in 44.1 overs despite Matt Henry’s unbeaten 17 off 9 in the final overs.
Leggie Yuvzendra Chahal took three timely wickets for India, conceding just 41 runs in 10 overs.
Irrespective of the game’s outcome, Rayudu played one of the most significant knocks of his career and made a compelling claim for a World Cup spot.
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.
With top-four falling cheaply, it looked Rohit’s brave call backfired but Rayudu and Shankar produced an innings-reviving stand under immense pressure.
Pacer Henry was the standout bowler for the hosts, taking four wickets for 35 runs while Trent Boult picked up three for 39.
After being bowled out for a paltry 92 in the fourth ODI, India had a point to prove.
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.
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
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.
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.