India lost the fifth and final ODI against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington by 87 runs to end up with a humiliating 4-0 series defeat on Friday. The visitors managed to tie one match in the five-match series.
Chasing an imposing 304 on a sluggish outfield, India started off to a poor start with the openers failing to rotate the strike and focusing only on big hits.
Both openers Shikhar Dhawan (9) and Rohit Sharma (4) kept looking for the boundary, allowing the asking rate and pressure to mount. The sluggish outfield meant they did not get enough value for their shots and boundaries were that much tougher to get.
Finally, Rohit ended his agonising 13-ball stay by edging a Kyle Mills delivery for a regulation catch to Ross Taylor at first slip.
Dhawan followed soon, in a similar fashion, edging Matt Henry to second slip, having taken 28 balls to score 9 runs.
Ajinkya Rahane (2), who joined Virat Kohli, could have played a steady hand. Instead, he fell leg before to Henry, trying to play a lose shot across the line.
Kohli (82) and Rayudu (20) then gave India a decent partnership of 34 runs. The two played sensibly, rotating the strike and hitting an occasional boundary.
But then Rayudu fell, slashing at a Henry delivery to give a catch at gully. Henry took four wickets for 38 runs in ten overs he bowled in his maiden outing for the Black Caps.
MS Dhoni (47), who next joined Kohli, tried to keep the momentum going. The two put up a partnership of 67 runs in 73 balls.
But the good work was undone when Kohli tried to hit a six off Nathan McCullum and failed to clear the man at long on. Though the Delhi batsman got to his 29th half century rapidly, he failed to see the team through the crisis.
Allrounders R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who were brilliant in the previous matches failed to fire today. Ashwin made a lot of room for himself to cut a Kane Williamson delivery but missed it completely to get bowled for 7.
Jadeja too fell cheaply for 5, again going for a big hit only to send the ball into the safe hands of Martin Guptill at the point boundary.
At that point, it seemed Dhoni would hold up one end with the tail at the other. That didn't happen. The captain, who entered the elite 8,000-run club, fell in a manner similar to Kohli’s, pushing the ball down the long off's throat.
The tail did wag valiantly with Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar hitting some lusty blows, but that wasn’t good enough.
Earlier, Ross Taylor hit his second consecutive century to get New Zealand to 303/5. Taylor (102) first got a crucial 152-run partnership with Kane Williamson (88) for the third wicket, giving the lower order a platform to hit out from. He then anchored the innings with lower order to get to the imposing total.
Winning the toss and electing to bowl first, India got the best start to their innings in the series so far. The new ball duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami were accurate, holding their length and getting a hint of swing from the pitch. Shami was particularly impressive, bowling back-to-back maidens at the start.
On the other hand, Kumar got India the early breakthrough, inducing Ryder (17) to edge to Ajinkya Rahane delivery at gully. Ryder fell once again for a score less than 20 when he slashed at a delivery that swung late.
He would have scalped Martin Guptill too had Varun Aaron held on to a mistimed pull from the Kiwi opener at mid on. But that did not hurt India much. Just as Guptill (16) seemed to get into the groove, Aaron made amends. The opener fell trying to clip Aaron through midwicket, giving a catch to mid-on again, this time taken safely by Shami.
However, after that, they went back to their inconsistent ways, allowing Williamson and Taylor to get the hosts back into the game.
Finally, Aaron got the breakthrough when Williamson tried to drive a fullish delivery over the ring but ended up in the hands of Ajinkya Rahane at point.
But that did not help the visitors' cause, with Brendon McCullum (23) getting into the act quickly. He got to a quick-fire 50-run stand with Taylor in 38 balls. He gave an easy chance in the 43rd over, when he tried to charge down the pitch to Jadeja but ended up sending the ball straight up. It was a relatively easy catch for Shami at long on but he grassed it.
The Kiwi captain finally fell to part-timer bowler Virat Kohli, trying charge down the pitch but slapping it straight to cover.
Taylor battled on with the lower order, getting to his ton with a four. He fell the very next ball, trying to slog sweep a slower delivery, with Shikhar Dhawan holding on to a good catch at deep midwicket.
Commentary, India Innings:
Live Commentary, New Zealand Innings: