Avenging the ‘humiliation’ suffered in the previous match, India beat New Zealand by 35 runs in the final One-day International, claiming the 4-1 series win at the foreign soil.
After being bowled out for a paltry 92 in the fourth ODI, India had a point to prove. 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 the win, the Team India proved the loss at Hamilton match was an aberration.
The fifth and final match of the series, however, was not devoid of its initial hiccups, as at 18 for four, India were heading towards another sub-100 total before Ambati Rayudu (90 off 113) and Vijay Shankar (45 off 64) forged a 98-run stand to ensure India ended with a fighting 252.
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 an 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.
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.
Brief scores: India: 252 all out in 49.5 overs (Shankar 45, Rayudu 90, Pandya 45; Henry 4/35) New Zealand: 217 all out in 44.1 overs (James Neesham 44; Yuzvendra Chahal 3/41).