When the Wellington ODI started, it seemed that India’s batsmen were all set to repeat their shocker in Hamilton. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill and MS Dhoni departed cheaply and New Zealand were on top. However, Ambati Rayudu’s 90, combined with his 98-run stand and 74-run partnership with Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav revived India and it took a 22-ball blitz from Hardik Pandya to help India reach a good total of 252. Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal showed their mettle as Rohit Sharma’s side held on for a 35-run win in Wellington on Sunday to win the four-match series 4-1.
The victory displayed India’s mental strength and their ability to stage a turnaround in case the top order did not contribute. Rohit won the toss and chose to bat stating that the “wanted to test ourselves in such situations.” They were immediately put to the sword. Rohit (2) was cleaned up by a full outswinger from Matt Henry while Shikhar Dhawan (6) upper-cut a short ball from Trent Boult to be caught at deep backward point. Shubman Gill (7) was undone by a Henry delivery which stuck on the wicket and was caught at cover point while Dhoni (1) survived an LBW appeal on review but was undone by a peach from Boult who breached his defences with a delivery that straightened on off stump.
Rayudu and Shankar were confronted with a difficult situation. Rayudu took his time and at one point, operated at a strike-rate of 5. New Zealand conceded some extras which released the pressure slightly. With both batsmen getting their eye in, both found the boundary on a regular basis. Rayudu broke the shackles with a four to fine leg and a six straight down the ground of Colin de Grandhomme.
The partnership neared 100 but then disaster struck as complete miscommunication between Rayudu and Shankar resulted in the Tamil Nadu all-rounder being run-out for a vital 45. Jadhav came in and Rayudu notched up his 10th fifty with back-to-back fours off de Grandhomme. With the end overs coming, both batsmen found the boundary on a regular basis.
Pandya assault hurts New Zealand
Rayudu gave India the ideal platform towards the end overs by whacking two sixes off Colin Munro, one an 87 meter six that sailed into the third tier of the Westpac stadium. Two further fours off Henry got him closer to a century but on 90, he sliced a full ball from Henry to be caught at extra cover. Couple of overs later, Jadhav dragged a slow off-cutter back onto the stumps and India was in danger of not finishing well. Enter Hardik Pandya and he changed the course of the game with some big hits.
In the 47th over, Pandya launched legspinner Todd Astle for three consecutive sixes and punished Boult with a swivel pull six on one leg to fine leg. Pandya blasted two fours and his fifth six off James Neesham as he looked set for a quick fifty but his dismissal thanks to a fine catch from Boult helped India end on 252.
Shami strikes in the powerplay
Mohammed Shami has been vital in the Indian bowling line-up for his ability to take quick wickets in the powerplay and he delivered yet again. Henry Nicholls (8) and Colin Munro (24) fell to the right-arm pacer and Pandya, having hurt New Zealand with the bat, got rid of Taylor for 1 with a delivery that nipped back in. However, it was disaster for New Zealand as Taylor did not opt for the review but replays showed that the ball was going over the stumps.
Kane Williamson and Tom Latham stitched a 67-run stand and made smooth progress but Kedar Jadhav enhanced his reputation as a partnership-breaker as Williamson mistimed the short ball to be caught by Dhawan at deep midwicket for 39. Pouncing on the opening, Yuzvendra Chahal ran through the middle order with three wickets but New Zealand had some hope with James Neesham batting well.
Neesham struck two boundaries off Shami and launched Bhuvneshwar for a four and six over deep square leg. However, some brilliant presence of mind from MS Dhoni resulted in his run-out and despite Matt Henry hitting two sixes off Pandya, New Zealand had an uphill task and India sealed the game in style.
“Coming here and beating NZ at home wasn't going to be easy. The achievement we've had today is a great achievement to have,” Rohit said after the game. Indeed, after going undefeated in all formats in Australia and winning in New Zealand after 10 years, the feeling is one of immense pride.