Ross Taylor hit a blistering ton to help New Zealand win the fourth ODI by 7 wickets as a toothless Indian bowling attack failed to capitalise on the conditions at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on Tuesday, winning the five match series 3-0.
In sharp contrast to the way the Indians
batted, Taylor did not hit a single sixer in his 127-run innings. All he did was regularly rotate the strike and hit the odd ball across the boundary.
The hosts began the chase in an explosive fashion with openers Jesse Ryder (19) and Martin Guptill (35) racing to a 54 run partnership in 7.2 overs. Both Indian new ball bowlers Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were hit for quite a few runs.
And then Varun Aaron was introduced in the eighth over and he produced instant result. A slower delivery outside off foxed Ryder who played on to his leg stump.
In the first ball of the next over, the visitors struck again. Shami trapped a dangerous looking Guptill (35) in front of the wicket to reduce the hosts to 79/2 in 15 overs.
That brought Kane Williamson (60) and Ross Taylor (112*) to the crease, who stitched together a partnership of 130 runs, scoring at will and leaving the Indian bowlers clueless.
Though both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja got good purchase off the Hamilton pitch, they failed to take wickets. Stuart Binny too proved expensive in his maiden ODI over.
Jadeja finally got rid of Kane Williamson with a brilliant direct hit to get the hosts to 212/3 in 40 overs. But captain Brendon McCullum then joined Taylor, hitting 36-ball 49 to take the game away from the visitors.
Though he missed out on a half-century by a run, he will not be complaining having redeemed himself after a string of indifferent outings and ending the innings with a massive sixer.
Earlier in the day, the Indian skipper was at his brutal best, clobbering three sixes and six fours to get India to 278 for five in 50 overs. He was particularly ruthless in the last over, hitting two massive sixes. He took only 73 balls to get to his 79.
Battling with him, Jadeja was not too bothered by the ruins around him when he came out to bat. His second fifty (62) in as many matches came in quick time, with his 54-ball innings peppered with eight fours and two sixes.
The Indian top order had fallen to its familiar shortcomings - inability to play the short ball or rotate strike regularly - and paid the price. Rohit Sharma though hit a determined 79.
Sharma and Ambati Rayudu stitched together a partnership of 79 runs to stabilise India after Virat Kohli failed as an opener, falling for a laboured two runs in ten balls.
Kohli did not look comfortable at the crease, with the Kiwi pace spearheads Kyle Mills and Tim Southee getting a bit of swing shaping away from the right handers.
He fell in the fourth over, trying to get under a Southee bouncer and ending up giving an easy catch to Jimmy Neesham at midwicket.
The next to go was Ajinkya Rahane, again to a short ball, giving an easy catch to Southee at deep fine leg.
Rayudu (37) then came to the crease and steadied the innings with Sharma. But then, he fell to a short ball too, misjudging the height of a Hamish Bennett delivery, top edging to Luke Ronchi behind the wickets.
Sharma kept the momentum. Dhoni's calm presence at the other end helped but he finally fell to a soft dismissal. He poked at a Kane Williamson delivery that was going down the leg side, giving a tough chance to Ronchi, who proved more than a match and picked it up.
R Ashwin slashed, hitting a boundary off his first ball. Soon he scooped one to the third man. He was out for five.
Kohli was asked to open the batting in place of a misfiring opener Shikhar Dhawan, who was dropped. The other change in the team was Rayudu, who replaced Suresh Raina.
For the hosts, the pick of the bowling was Tim Southee, who gave away only 36 in his 10 overs and took two wickets, including that of Kohli. That apart, Kyle Mills, Hamish Bennett and Kane Williamson claimed a wicket apiece.
Commentary, New Zealand Innings:
Commentary, India Innings:
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