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by Chetan Narula Tuesday 28 January 2014
New Zealand 280-3 (Taylor 112no) beatIndia 278-5 (Dhoni 79no) by seven wicketsFourth One-Day International, HamiltonScorecard
Ross Taylor scored an unbeaten century to guide New Zealand to a series-winning seven-wicket win over India in the fourth One-Day International in Hamilton.
Taylor was unbeaten on 112 as New Zealand closed on 280 for three after India had earlier posted 278 for five.
Rohit Sharma (79), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (79) and Ravindra Jadeja (62) all struck half-centuries for the tourists before they went 3-0 down in the series with one game remaining.
Set 279 runs to wrap up the series here itself, New Zealand got off to a rollicking start, with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill mistreating the Indian bowling attack.
The two of them scored a flurry of boundaries, especially off Mohammad Shami’s bowling, and together hitting ten fours and one six in their opening stand of 54 runs. They reached this mark in just seven overs, but once again Ryder couldn’t go on and was bowled in the eighth over, by first change Aaron. He scored 19 runs off 18 balls, with four fours.
Guptill was gone four runs later, in the very next over, as Shami extracted his revenge from the opposite end, trapping the Auckland centurion LBW.
He scored 35 runs off 27 balls, with six fours and one six. They had provided a platform for the chase and the main work needed to be done by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor once again.
Dhoni sensed the moment and brought Jadeja on in the 11th over, and seeing some purchase of turn, Ravichandran Ashwin was deployed in the 12th. The two spinners bowled in tandem for ten overs as the scoring slowed down, giving away only 30 runs.
But the medium pacers had to come back into the attack, starting with Kumar in the 21st and Binny in the 22nd. It opened the flood-gates as the next ten overs yielded 70 runs as Taylor and Williamson put the chase back on track.
Their 50-run partnership, off 86 balls, had come in the 23rd over as Ambati Rayudu bowled some part-time spin. In the 28th over, Taylor brought up his half-century and the New Zealand score crossed the 150-mark as well.
It was Williamson’s turn to celebrate in the next over, bringing up his fourth consecutive half-century in the series, and his 10th in ODIs overall. The 100-run partnership between the two also came up in that 29th over.
It seemed the defence was dead and buried, but India were given some hope by Jadeja, who ran out Williamson in the 35th over. Having put up 130 runs for the third wicket, once again the Black Caps batsman missed out on a hundred, falling this time for 60 runs off 82 balls, with two fours and two sixes.
The power play came on as Brendon McCullum walked out to bat and this time he didn’t get out for a duck, instead marauding the Indian bowling and putting up 92 unbeaten runs for the fifth wicket with Taylor.
Only 24 runs came off the power play but the hosts were in no hurry, especially Taylor who didn’t hit a single six in his innings, and calmly brought up his ninth ODI hundred in the 43rd over. He faced 110 balls and hit 14 fours, routing any Indian hopes of a comeback in the series.
Then the duo hurriedly finished things off, winning with 11 balls to spare. McCullum was unbeaten on 49, off 36 balls, with four fours and three sixes. The star of the night, Taylor scored 112 not out, facing 127 balls and hitting 15 boundaries against the hapless Indian bowling.
For the men in blue, Shami (1-61) and Aaron (1-51) were the only wicket-takers but they proved to be very expensive.
Jadeja (0-33) and Ashwin (0-41) bowled economically, but couldn’t return any wickets which proved to be crucial. Kumar (0-62) too proved to be ineffective. Binny (0-8) and Rayudu (0-23) didn’t get second spells.
Earlier, Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat first, a change from the team’s usual policy in the first three ODIs on this tour.
They also made two changes, dropping both Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, and bringing in Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny.
New Zealand also made two changes, with Corey Anderson and Mitchell McClenaghan sitting this game out, and James Neesham and Kyle Mills coming in for them.
In the absence of Dhawan, Virat Kohli came out to open the innings with Rohit Sharma. India got off to a very slow start. Soon enough, in the fourth over with only five runs on the board, Kohli (2) got frustrated and went after a short delivery from Tim Southee, mistiming his pull and caught at midwicket by James Neesham.
Ajinkya Rahane (3) too moved up the order, coming in at number three, but in the ninth over, pulled straight to Southee at fine leg off Kyle Mills.
Things were looking bad for India at 22 for two when Ambati Rayudu walked in to bat for the first time in an ODI since the tour of Zimbabwe in mid-2013.
Together with Rohit, he started re-building the innings with India crossing the 50-run mark in only the 17th over. But once set, the two batsmen sped up their run-scoring, bringing up their 50-run partnership in the 22nd over.
Rohit cut loose with a flurry of boundaries, hitting three fours and three sixes, as he brought up his 21st ODI fifty off 72 balls. He reached there in the 24th over of the innings, as India also crossed the 100-run mark in the next over.
Not to be left behind, Rayudu too sped up, hitting two sixes and three fours in his 58-ball stay at the wicket. The batsmen put on 79 runs for the third wicket as the run-rate shot up to 4.60 per over, with the last 41 runs of their pairing coming in 32 balls.
Against the run of play then, Rayudu got out in the 26th over, becoming the third batsman on the day to lose his wicket to a short delivery. His pull, off Hamish Bennett, was mistimed and he only looped it up for keeper Luke Ronchi to claim easily. He scored 37 runs, but looked good for many more.
Dhoni walked in and hit Willaimson for a six straightaway. Rohit too carried on, as he needed to, but did not curb his strokes. He hit another three fours and one more six, going up to 79 runs (94 balls, six fours, four sixes), when disaster struck.
He opened the face to a Williamson delivery going down the leg side, and Ronchi latched on to it in his second chance. Troubles were compounded when nine runs later, just as India crossed the 150-run mark in the 33rd over, Auckland’s hero Ashwin (5) was out caught at third man, cutting a short and wide delivery from Southee.
Jadeja, Eden Park’s other hero walked in then, and together with Dhoni, resurrected the Indian innings. Their first challenge was to not lose any more wickets, especially in the batting power play and they didn’t, scoring 24 runs in those five overs.
Jadeja was the aggressor with his skipper looking to stay on till the end. And as the innings entered the last ten overs, they both opened up gradually, playing attacking strokes and looking for big runs.
The tactic worked very well for India as they brought up their 50-run partnership off only 55 balls in the 43rd over, and then three overs later, Dhoni completed his second consecutive half-century - and his 54th in ODIs overall - off 58 balls.
Later, in the 48th over, Jadeja too brought up his eighth ODI fifty - off only 46 balls - as well as a successive one following his exploits in the previous game.
Together they put on 127 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket, as the final ten overs brought 100 runs. They made sure that India didn’t lose a wicket for the last 16.5 overs at a run-rate of 7.54 per over, as Dhoni finished the innings off in style, hitting a massive six off Neeshan and staying unbeaten on 79 (73 balls, six fours, four sixes), while Jadeja was 62 not out (54 balls, eight fours, two sixes).
For the hosts, Southee (2-36) was the pick of the bowlers, while Mills (1-42) and Bennett (1-67) provided able support. Williamson (1-26) too picked up a wicket, but Neesham (0-59) and McCullum (0-44) finished without any reward.
© Cricket World 2014