New Zealand conceded the five-match series 0-3 after another suffering another huge loss in third ODI of the series at Mount Maunganui. Batting first, the hosts yet again struggled to put up a dominant total. There were good contributions from Ross Taylor (93) and Tom Latham (51). Together, they put on a 119-run stand for the fourth wicket. However, this stand aside, the Kiwis were never really in the game. India aced the run chase with major contributions from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, both of whom got out after scoring half-centuries.
As the series has been sealed by India already, we take a look at the report card from the third ODI of the series.
Taylor was expected to shore up New Zealand's batting against spin in this series but he kept on throwing away his starts until the third ODI. Here, he put his head down and negated the spin threat in the company of a sturdy Tom Latham. Taylor was bullish when he went on the attack and ensured he had his eyes on the ball against the wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The Black Caps needed him to go berserk in the death but Mohammad Shami returned to prize out Taylor, seven short of a ton, in the 46th over of the Kiwi innings.
Shami has been the pick of India's fast bowlers in this series. He lured opener Colin Munro to edge twice in three balls, and though the first chance was spilled, the second was held on to. His first four overs went for just 13 runs. With Taylor looking to run away with the game in the death, Shami removed the set batsman and added the wicket of Ish Sodhi to finish with impressive figures of 3/41.
The all-rounder returned to the Indian ODI team with aplomb, stepping up as the fifth bowler in the side. He was one of the better bowlers on show, varying his pace and length cleverly and choking the flow of runs. On a wicket where the ball was stopping on the batsmen a touch, Pandya used his slower bouncers to good effect and picked up the wickets of Henry Nicholls and Mitchell Santner. He put Williamson out of his groove in a splendid over where he hit the deck hard and took the pace off the ball. Next over, Pandya pulled off an outrageous catch at short mid-wicket to dismiss the enraged Kiwi skipper.
Even as Dhawan fell early, Rohit carried on from where he had left in last match. He reached his half-century off 63 balls and proceeded to celebrate it by pulling Lockie Ferguson for six. Rohit seemed well set in the company of Kohli to take India to their target when Santner lured him out with flight and had him stumped. For the second time in succession, Rohit failed to convert his half-century into a hundred. That said, the century stand with Kohli set the game up for the middle-order.
The run-chase master was beaten on the outside edge by Boult on the first ball he faced. He waited for 10 balls to find his first boundary. The first 35 balls he faced brought only 19 runs but Kohli was looking solid and unhurried at the wicket. He picked up pace as Rohit got going and completed his half-century in 59 balls. With Rohit falling shortly afterwards, Kohli was expected to take India to their destination but he went for an ill-advised expansive drive off a Boult slower ball to gift a catch to the cover fielder.
Rayudu walked in with India well and truly in the driving seat at Mount Maunganui in the run-chase. All he needed to do was preserve his wicket and take India to the target and Rayudu did that to perfection, combining with Dinesh Karthik in a half-century stand. Rayudu remained unbeaten on 40 as India aced the target. He remains in contention for the No 4 spot as the World Cup looms.
Karthik walked in at No 5 for India as there was no MS Dhoni in the side. He did not have the best starts in the match as he dropped a catch offered by Colin Munro. He made amends with the bat, putting on 38 in as many balls, and carrying India to the target even after they lost Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the middle overs.
Latham forged a superb century stand with Ross Taylor that resurrected New Zealand's innings from 59/3 to 178/4. Two of the best players of spin in the side, Latham and Taylor milked Chahal and Kuldeep while putting away the odd loose ball. The southpaw hit Chahal for a six over the mid-wicket off a full toss just before his half-century and seemed to be in the mood for a big knock. But in Chahal's next over, as he attempted a similar shot, Latham wasn't up to the pitch of the ball and lofted it down the throat of the deep fielder.
Boult was superb upfront even as Doug Bracewell leaked runs. The left-arm seamer gave away just 16 in his first six overs while adding the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan. He returned with India in control of the game and sent back Virat Kohli with a well disguised off-cutter to expose the middle-order. However, neither him nor his mates could capitalize on the breakthrough and Boult finished with figures of 2/40 in his 10 overs.
Chahal came on as first change bowler but was a tad short on a surface where his pace variations would have been more handy had he bowled fuller. He removed both Kane Williamson and Tom Latham with fuller balls that lured the batsmen to go after him but the runs kept coming for Kiwis when he landed it short. He finished with figures of 2/51 but would rue the fact that he didn't find the right areas more often.
Guptill took on Bhuvneshwar Kumar early on but the pacer quickly corrected his line and length to send back the New Zealand opener. He had conceded 23 runs in his first five overs and returned in the death to concede the exact amount of runs in his last five. His impressive bowling upfront and in the death is what keeps him in the side and Bhuvneshwar did his role to perfection at Mount Maunganui on Monday.
Santner was brought back to help the batting while continuing the good work with the ball but he fell early as Taylor looked for a reliable partner. He returned to be his stringent self with the ball and got the big wicket of Rohit Sharma by deceiving him in flight. His ten overs cost just 45 and helped New Zealand remain in contention as the Rohit-Kohli stand took off.
Chahal outsmarted Kuldeep in terms of wickets as the Chinaman was milked for runs when Taylor and Latham were at the crease. Kuldeep was pitching it too short and on occasions, he drifted onto the pads. As a result, he did not find much success in this game.
Jadhav wasn't used with the bat but appeared ineffective with the ball as his slingy off-breaks were a tad too short. Taylor punished him for successive fours to reach his half-century and although Jadhav bowled with decent accuracy and did not leak runs, he wasn't used much.
Williamson began well, playing Chahal with conviction and cutting Mohammad Shami with better judgement than in the previous ODI. However, as Hardik Pandya came on, the skipper seemed frustrated by the lack of bounce and pace from the surface and struggled for his timing. After playing out five dots in a Pandya over, Williamson flicked Chahal in the air in frustration and Pandya at short mid-wicket pulled off a stunner to bring an end to his innings.
Dhawan was off to a blazing start with the bat, plundering a hat-trick of fours off Doug Bracewell in the second over. He raced to 28 in 27 balls before Boult had him caught in the slips off a poor shot. Dhawan, though, was sloppy in the field and gave away a few extra runs.
Guptill had a mini battle with Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the start of the innings as played out a maiden off the seamer. He then hit him over mid-on for a six and a four in the next over. This forced the Indian fast bowler to change his length to the Kiwi opener. He kept it on a good length instead of bowling too full, which resulted in Guptill playing a drive on the off-side with little feet movement. He edged it behind where Karthik did not make a mistake. Like Munro, Guptill is having a terrible series at the top of the order.
Ferguson started off his spell with a maiden but when he returned in the midst of the Kohli-Rohit stand, the seamer was too short and leaked runs. He lost his rhythm hence and conceded way too many boundaries to ease India’s run-chase. With the series gone, New Zealand might ponder bringing in Matt Henry for him.
Sodhi was largely ineffective much like in the previous ODI and leaked runs at 7.6 an over. India sealed the run-chase with a six and a four off him and the leg-spinner's place in the side should be in doubt once Todd Astle returns from injury. Sodhi hasn't been among the wickets and his poor economy further makes him a doubtful starter.
The New Zealand opener was circumspect from the word go to fuller deliveries and edged Mohammad Shami to the keeper only for Karthik to fumble and put him down. Instead of using the reprieve as a chance to be careful outside his off-stump, Munro went with hard hands at Shami yet again, two balls later. He promptly edged to the slip cordon to continue his wretched run in the series.
Nicholls hasn't had the best of series and after surviving a run-out appeal, the southpaw edged a slower bumper from Hardik Pandya to the keeper to depart for six. He has had minimal impact in the middle-order against India's spinners but today it didn't even come down to that as he seemed too impatient to get going early on.
Bracewell was slapped for five fours in his first two overs - all of them by Shikhar Dhawan - as the Kiwi seamer bowled either too short or too full. He was getting movement much like in the previous game but sprayed the ball all around to make India's work easier. With Boult steaming in from the other end, the Black Caps needed Bracewell to help build the pressure but he let them down with some ordinary bowling.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor
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