India plunged to a fresh low on their abysmal tour of New Zealand, plunging to an 87-run defeat in the fifth and final One-day international on Friday, handing the hosts a 4-0 series triumph.
In a match that followed a pattern set from the first game in Napier, India failed to shake the pairing of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson to be left chasing 304 for victory on a bouncy Westpac stadium pitch. And the visiting batsmen, barring Virat Kohli and skipper MS Dhoni, showed little application to be left with no chance of mounting a serious chase.
India have lost six of their last eight ODIs, in South Africa and New Zealand. One game in South Africa was washed out while the other in Auckland ended in a tie. The humiliating defeat comes barely days before the two-Test series starts in Auckland. The first Test begins on February 6.
New Zealand set the terms after Ross Taylor struck his second century in a row. The former skipper’s 102 and his 152-run third wicket partnership with Kane Williamson – who struck the fifth half-century in a row before being dismissed for 88 trying to force the score – set up the innings nicely for skipper Brendon McCullum (23) and James Neesham (34 off 19 balls) to take the score past the 300-run mark.
It was Taylor and Williamson’s third century partnership. Williamson, 23, who has been the sheet-anchor in this team, became only the second batsman to score a fifty in each innings in a five-match series, emulating Pakistan’s Yasir Hameed.
With Indian spinners never in the game and the pacers once again starting well but not finding any wicket-taking rhythm, it was always going to be difficult, Dhoni having elected to bowl first for the fourth time in this series.
After Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan found the going tough, the former paid the penalty of trying a half slash to be caught by Taylor at slip. Shikhar, back after sitting out the previous game, too did not reach double figures, edging one from Matt Henry to give the debutant paceman his first international wicket.
READ:Live coverage of the match
Henry belied his lack of experience by maintaining a great line, mostly outside off-stump or pitched it up, finishing with four wickets. It paid off as Ajinkya Rahane was trapped in front playing across the line and Ambati Rayudu was beaten trying to drive one that moved away, to be caught at gully.
Virat Kohli was again in sublime form as he added 67 runs with MS Dhoni for the fifth wicket. However, with the run rate mounting, Kohli had to attack and was caught on the straight boundary off spinner Nathan McCullum. He is the only batsman who looked like taking on the Kiwi pace bowlers as his century and two half-centuries show.
Williamson and Kyle Mills dashed even remote hopes of any late heroics by dismissing Ashwin, bowled giving the charge, and Jadeja, holeing to midwicket.
Dhoni's dismissal in the 45th over only confirmed the big defeat.