Amit Mishra floored New Zealand with his second five-wicket-haul in ODIs. (AP Photo)
NEW DELHI: India needed to defend 270 runs in order to win their first major bilateral ODI series in two years. And as it turned out, did so without breaking a sweat. In one of the worst batting collapses in recent memory, New Zealand dished out a rather sub-standard performance, and from 63/2, lost their final eight wickets for all of 16 runs.
Yes, you read that right. India ran a demolition derby over New Zealand to win the decider at Visakhapatnam by a whopping 190 runs, their fourth-largest win in ODIs in terms of runs. New Zealand were overwhelmed by the Indian spinners and folded for 79, their fifth-lowest total in ODIs. Amit Mishra led the pack with a second five-wicket-haul that earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. He was also named Man of the Series for picking up 15 wickets.
The opening act of the win was set by Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who struck crucial half-centuries at two equally pivotal stages of the innings after MS Dhoni called it right at the toss and decided to bat first. New Zealand, as it panned out, scored only 9 more than Rohit’s 70. An indication how clueless their batting was. Only three batsmen reached double figures and five registered ducks.
In an even first innings, India put up three valuable partnerships and New Zealand broke it when it mattered. India however, were pleased to get to 269/6 due to slog-over heroics from Kedar Jadhav and Axar Patel after the game seemed to be going either way at a stage. Four of the five matches at Vizag have been won by the side chasing. Not this time though.
India were given an early advantage when Umesh Yadav removed Martin Guptill for his second duck of the series. It was almost a replay of his dismissal at the Kotla – a perfect away swinger which clipped Guptill’s thigh pad and crashed onto the stumps. On other occasions, Umesh was full and Tom Latham, confident of the form he’s been in, drove him handsomely for a couple of boundaries early on before the two-paced nature of the surface got the better of him.
Kane Williamson did the same. What stands out about him is his foot movement – rarely is he seen stuck while playing his shots. With back-to-back boundaries off Jasprit Bumrah, Williamson was beginning to look authoritative but his little charge was halted by Axar Patel who was immaculate with his wicket-to-wicket line. A half-hearted loft towards long off saw the back of him. Ross Taylor struggled for the most part of his innings as well and offered a feather to Dhoni going for a cut.
And that opened the floodgates. Mishra foxed BJ Watling with a dream googly, and followed it with the wickets of Jimmy Neesham and Tim Southee in the next over. Neesham dismissal was a ripped with the ball turning viciously to take his off stump, while Dhoni completed yet another lightning quick stumping – of Southee. With New Zealand falling like a pack of cards, debutant Jayant Yadav had his moment in the sun, trapping Corey Anderson leg before for his maiden international wicket.
Ish Sodhi top edged to Rahane and gave Mishra his fifth.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane gave India their slowest start of the series – 45 runs in the first 10 overs. They got the odd boundary but lacked fluency in the overall scoring. Rahane initially cracked two fours in two overs to settle things but was later bogged down. Batting wasn’t easy – the balls mostly came slower off the surface. Southee and Trent Boult did well to roll their fingers over the ball.
Its reward went to Neesham, who had Rahane chipping to midwicket. Williamson did the right thing by introducing Mitchell Santner and Sodhi which tightened things. Even the arrival of Virat Kohli didn’t help much and India were reduced to scoring less than five an over. It was more of a caution by choice.
In between, Rohit timed a couple of good hits – a six over long off and a boundary towards square leg. The floodgates though really opened when Rohit advanced to Sodhi and sent him over the sidescreen. Having twisted his ankle while diving for a single, he accelerated the innings with poised support from Kohli. With a cracking cut, Rohit brought up his 29th fifty in ODIs. A forward punch for six off Neesham stood out.
With Rohit connecting and finding the boundaries, Kohli bided his time. Oddly enough, the gap between his first and second boundary was 11 overs. Such was the difficulty India faced. The batsmen were helped by a dropped chance each. Rohit, going for one shot too many, miscued a Boult bouncer to find Neesham.
Kohli, who attempted at breaking the shackles in the 30th over from Sodhi. He dispatched the legspinner over the long-off boundary and MS Dhoni followed it up with a four. The re-introduction of seamers helped India’s run-scoring. And for a change, it was Dhoni reaping the benefit of it. He targeted the area between square leg and fine leg, and scored three four in that direction. Dhoni and Kohli brought up the fifty-run stand, but just when it seemed they were setting the stage for a flourishing finish, Dhoni missed a sweep and was trapped leg-before by Santner.
New Zealand then hit back. Manish Pandey slogged to Sodhi four balls later. Kohli had to fight hard for his 38th ODI fifty, but perished in order to lift the scoring. That India somewhat recovered to reach the score they did from 220 owed to a gutsy effort from Jadhav. He got three fours and a six at the dying stages of the innings. He and Axar added 46 in 39 balls to give India what seemed a slight edge at the innings break.
Brief scores:India 269/6 (Rohit Sharma 70, Virat Kohli 65; Trent Boult 2/52) beatNew Zealand 79 all out (Williamson 27; Mishra 5/18) by 190 runs to win series 3-2.