New Zealand successfully overcame the inertia in its ranks and put together a fine performance to beat India by 19 runs and restore parity in the Paytm ODI series here at the JSCA International Stadium on Wednesday.The result was a big disappointment for the home crowd, which had turned out in the thousands to cheer for the local hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian skipper.
But the visitors spoiled the party with a better show of discipline and all-round efficiency.
With the series tied 2-2, the focus now moves to Visakhapatnam, which will host the decider on Saturday.
The Indian bowling, led by the spin triumvirate of Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Kedar Jadhav, restricted New Zealand to 260 for seven in the allotted 50 overs after it had got off to a flying start.
In the chase, India folded up for 241 despite its tail-enders making a resolute bid to salvage the match.
The New Zealand pacers did the damage against India which had prepared for the threat from the visitor’s spinners.
The host had depended heavily on Virat Kohli, who has been the most prolific Indian batsman yet this series.
Kohli, who had inspired the previous two wins —in Dharmashala with an unbeaten 85 and in Mohali with 154 not out — fell for 45 this time, and that virtually ended the host’s prospects.
A momentary lapse in concentration costed Kohli his wicket; he was pouched by wicket-keeper B-J. Watling as he went chasing a wide delivery from leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.
After Kohli’s departure, India looked to Dhoni to take the side across the line.
The Indian captain continued to live dangerously against the Kiwi spinners — especially Sodhi — and perished against a delivery from medium-pacer James Neesham, which kept low and went through his defence.
Rohit Sharma’s dismal run continued unabated as the opener was dismissed early after he hit two boundaries in making 11.
Rohit’s opening partner Ajinkya Rahane applied himself much better to score a fine 57 (70b, 5×4, 1×6).
Rahane and Kohli had put on 79 for the second wicket when the latter fell.
Rahane left 30 runs later, trapped leg-before to a deceptive Neesham delivery.
Dhoni was the next to go, leaving youngsters Axar Patel and Manish Pandey to attempt a resurrection.
But that was not to be, despite Axar’s fighting 40-ball 38 (3×4, 1×6).
Dhawal Kulkarni took the fight ahead with a breezy 25 in a 34-run stand for the last wicket.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson opted to bat on winning the toss for the first time in the series.
Calling the pitch “tired,” Williamson would have hoped that the blandness of the surface would help the team’s beleaguered batting line-up get into its groove.
New Zealand made three changes bringing in wicket-keeper Watling for an off-colour Luke Ronchi, and spinners Anton Devcich for Corey Anderson and Ish Sodhi for Matt Henry.
The New Zealand captain appeared to have thought it out well as Martin Guptill and Tom Latham got down to script a fine partnership that seemed to end the visitors’ long-standing opening woes.
Guptill and Latham put on 96 runs off 93 balls, giving the Kiwis the sort of start they had been hoping for.
Latham was the first to go, held by short fine-leg Rahane, attempting to sweep Axar.
Guptill enjoyed two reprieves as he made 72 (84b, 12×4).
After Guptill got out, the run-rate went down as captain Williamson (41) and Ross Taylor (34) struggled against spin. The Indian slow bowlers combined to bowl pretty well, and gave away only 107 runs in 28 overs, and that explains why the Kiwis could not build further after a strong start.