Rohit Sharma’s Indian cricket team ended their ODI leg of New Zealand on the ultimate high as they won the fifth and final game in Westpac Stadium, Wellington by 35 runs to seal the series 4-1. Under Virat Kohli, the team had put three clinical performances in Napier and in the two ODIs at Bay Oval before stumbling to a horror loss in Hamilton in which they were bowled out for 92, their lowest total in New Zealand. However, on a difficult pitch, Rohit’s side made amends as they bounced back from 18/4 to reach 252 thanks to Ambati Rayudu’s 90 and a blitz of 45 off 22 balls from Hardik Pandya. The bowlers, led by Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal, ensured New Zealand did not get momentum as Kane Williamson’s side stumbled.
The result in Wellington gave India their best scoreline in any format in New Zealand ever since they started touring the country in 1967. In the 1967/68 series, India won the Test match series 3-1 but they had to wait 41 years for their next triumph. In 2009, under the guidance of MS Dhoni, India clinched an ODI series in New Zealand for the first time when they won the five-match series 3-1.
For New Zealand, it represented a record low for a side that had lost just one ODI series in the last two years prior to their clash against India. New Zealand first suffered this fate against their Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in 1999/2000. After the first match ended in a no-result, Australia won the next four games in Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Napier by five wickets, 50 runs, 48 runs and five wickets respectively before New Zealand salvaged some pride in the final game in Auckland by registering a three-wicket win.
Sri Lanka were the next nation to inflict major damage to New Zealand. Led by Sanath Jayasuriya, the team won the first four ODIs in Napier, Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton by 61 runs, three wickets, nine wickets and three runs via Duckworth-Lewis method. Sri Lanka were gunning for a 5-0 whitewash but New Zealand held their nerve to win the match in Christchurch by 13 runs.
However, the Australians would inflict more humiliation on New Zealand as they became the first side to whitewash the Kiwis at home in a five-match series. Under a dominant side led by Ricky Ponting, Australia won the games in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington and Napier. Barring the first game in Wellington which Australia won by a narrow margin of 10 runs, Ponting’s side decimated the opposition in the other matches, winning by margins of 106 runs, 86 runs, seven wickets and 122 runs respectively.
This loss to India will be a body blow for Kane Williamson and his team as they aim to get some momentum for their preparation in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.