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Consolation win for Kiwis over India

On a pitch that offered a bit of bounce, New Zealand hit their straps and India fell well short, slumping to an eight-wicket loss in the fifth and final one-day international in Auckland, reports Anand Vasu. See Full Scorecard

cricket Updated: Mar 15, 2009 00:04 IST
Anand Vasu

On a pitch that offered a bit of bounce, New Zealand hit their straps and India fell well short, slumping to an eight-wicket loss. Had this performance come in the first game, rather than capping of the series at a 3-1 result, there might have been cause for concern.

With a change in personnel imminent for the Test series, M.S. Dhoni will not be overly critical of the way India surrendered the final ODI. If anything, it is a timely reminder that this New Zealand team can be a disciplined and dogged outfit.

Clearly, Dhoni was taking the long-term view as regards the Test series when he decided to play an unchanged eleven. While there was some justification in doing this, it was a misreading of the pitch that caused Dhoni to choose to bat when he won yet another toss. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir quickly realised that this was not a surface on which they could hit through the line at will. But with the game reduced to 43 overs by an afternoon shower, the top-order pressed on, playing their shots, with only Sehwag (40) having any degree of success.

As the wickets fell, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh edging to the keeper and Suresh Raina top-edging, New Zealand managed to send down some tight overs. Dhoni played on and at 110 for 5 the writing was on the wall.

Rohit Sharma, promoted to No. 4, seemed unsure of what he was trying to achieve and the tentativeness was understandable given how rarely he gets a proper bat in international cricket. That said, Rohit's inability to turn the strike over and his lack of judgment while calling for singles left plenty to be desired. He was unbeaten for 43 as India were bowled out for 149 in just 36.3 overs.

Once Jesse Ryder got going, any chances of the Indian bowlers making up for the batting failure evaporated. Ryder took Ishant Sharma's short stuff apart, leading to a momentary heated exchange while the increasingly impressive Martin Guptill blunted Zaheer Khan.

Ryder added a brisk 63 to his 3 for 29, easily walking away with the Man-of-the-Match award as New Zealand knocked off the runs with almost 20 overs to spare.