Virat Kohli produced another breathtaking effort as his superbly crafted unbeaten 154 enabled India to cruise to an easy seven-wicket victory in the third ODI against New Zealand, here on Sunday.
India thus lead the five-match series 2-1.
Kohli’s 134-ball knock was ably complemented by an under-pressure skipper Dhoni (80 off 91) as the duo forged a 151-run partnership off 163 balls to effectively seal the match with 10 balls to spare after the home team made a shaky start in their pursuit of 286. Dhoni promoted himself up the order after much deliberation and it did yield results.
The visitors had earlier suffered a batting collapse before Jimmy Neesham (57) and Matt Henry (39*) came up with a 84-run stand for the ninth wicket to take their side to a competitive total.
Eventually, it was India’s No 1 batsman Kohli, who got the job done with ridiculous ease. He is amassing hundreds at a staggering rate and on Sunday. he registered his 26th one in ODIs. He has now scored three hundreds in his last seven ODI innings and has a batting average of 52 plus in 174 matches. He hit 16 boundaries and a six.
India’s batting mainstay also had luck on side as he was dropped on 6 by Ross Taylor, who could not hold to a regulation catch standing at a wide slip on the bowling off Henry.
Dhoni’s effort in the circumstances was also a valuable one. With India in a spot of bother, he promoted himself at number four and was involved in a match winning stand with Kohli. On the way to his first half century in 11 innings, Dhoni completed 9000 runs to become the fifth Indian to do so after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin. He also surpassed Tendulkar to be India’s leading six-hitter in ODIs.
India felt the pressure at the start of the chase. Openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, who were not among the runs in the earlier games, fell cheaply once again.
Pandey too remained unbeaten on 24 and hit the winning boundary . Kohli and Pandey shared a 97-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Earlier, Neesham and Henry shared an 84-run stand for the ninth wicket to help New Zealand post 285 after Indian spinners reduced the visitors to 199.
Mishra and Jadhav did the bulk of the damage as New Zealand’s hopes of a formidable total were dashed in quick time.