At the 11th over mark, New Zealand were level with India, except that the visitors had lost an extra wicket than the hosts. Till the 14th over, the Kiwis were going neck-to-neck. The mayhem began after Kane Williamson (27) holed out to Kedar Jadhav at long off.
After being on the bench for the entire Test series against New Zealand, Amit Mishra got a look-in for the limited overs series only because the selectors decided to rest R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
The leg-spinner, however, pounced on this opportunity. After bagging 10 wickets in four matches in the series, Mishra reserved his best for the deciding clash at the ACA-VDCA Stadium on Saturday by adding another five wickets to his overall tally.
He ripped through the Kiwi line-up to claim his second five-wicket haul in ODIs as New Zealand folded up for 79 in 23.2 overs – their lowest total against India and the shortest completed innings in ODIs.
While the Kiwis have been a master of reading the conditions well in India, the Indian think-tank clearly outsmarted them this time. Dhoni, known to pull a rabbit out of his hat in his decision-making, picked three spinners, giving Jayant Yadav, who has been travelling with the Indian team, his ODI debut.
Mishra didn’t try anything extraordinary. He just tossed the ball and pitched it in the right areas on conditions assisting the spinners. All that Mishra wanted to do was live up to his “trademark” of giving the team a breakthrough whenever he’s bowling.
Thanks to Mishra’s figures of 6-2-18-5, New Zealand’s last seven wickets fell for only 16 runs and helped India win the final match by 190 runs and take the five-match series 3-2.
“When I started off, I was a bit worried that I would go for boundaries. But then Dhoni told me to bowl in my normal way. He told me if you get one or two wickets, it will be good and we will run through them,” said Mishra, who bagged the Man of the Match and Player of the Series awards.
If the googly had left BJ Watling bamboozled, the one which went through James Neesham’s bat and pad to disrupt his furniture would have been a leg-spinner’s ultimate moment of satisfaction.
The way New Zealand fought their way back into the series, one expected a close contest on Saturday. But instead it turned out to be a lop-sided contest.
Rohit Sharma, struggling for form in the series, finally came good in the last match with a strokeful 70 while Virat Kohli crafted his way to 65 to build a platform and get India to 269/6.
On a slow track, India needed partnerships and the Kohli-Rohit, Kohli-MS Dhoni pairs did just that. Rohit and Kohli stitched 79-run stand for the second wicket and the Kohli-Dhoni pair put up 71 for the third wicket.
Seeing the track getting slower, Williamson wasted no time in introducing spin from both ends by the 13th over itself. His pacers further took the pace away from their deliveries, making it more difficult for the Indian batters to connect well.
Although Dhoni struggled to rotate strike freely, Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking with his clever placements for ones and twos. Dhoni initially consumed too many dot balls, but later on showed his brute power to make up for it.
There were no fireworks at the stadium as India thumped the Kiwis, but Dhoni’s team ensured that the festive mood is not dampened.