India paid the price for some poor shot selection as New Zealand clinched the fourth cricket ODI by 19 runs to level five-match series 2-2, here on Wednesday.
Chasing a target of 281 on a slowish track, India were on course at 128 for 2 before a sudden middle-order collapse saw them lose four quick wickets as they were finally all-out for 241 in 48.4 overs.
This was India’s first loss at skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home ground in all the international matches that they have played so far.
India’s No 1 batsman Virat Kohli (45) and opener Ajinkya Rahane (57) added 79 runs for the second wicket while skipper Dhoni disappointed the local fans managing a sedate 11 off 31 balls before Jimmy Neesham cleaned him up.
He played 22 dot balls on Wednesday as he has now played more than 100 dot balls in his last three ODIs.
Especially against left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner (1/38) who bowled 34 dot balls in all and quite a few to Dhoni.
It was Rahane’s leg before off Neesham that triggered a collapse with Dhoni following the suit. Tim Southee then dealt a telling blow by removing Manish Pandey (12) and Kedar Jadhav (0) off successive deliveries — both out to poor choice of shots. From 128/2, India slumped to 154/6 in just five overs and it became the turning point of the match.
Pandey trying to clear mid-on was out when situation demanded a bit of discretion while Kedar was guilty of trying to hit across the line being adjudged plumb in-front.
Hardik Pandya’s (9) inexperience also showed as he tried to hit an inside out lofted shot despite a fielder being placed at the extra cover boundary.
Axar Patel (38) and Dhawal Kulkarni (25) did try but that was never going to be enough for the ‘Men In Blue’.
Southee (3/48) and Boult (2/40) were again on the money, so was Neesham (2/38) donning the third seamer’s role to perfection.
The spinners gave away 102 runs in their 24 overs and bowled 70 dots which is equivalent to 11.4 overs without runs.
Earlier, Martin Guptill struck a fluent half-century but New Zealand failed to seize the momentum as Indian spinners did well to restrict them to a modest 260 for 7.
Opting to bat, New Zealand were off to their best start on the tour with Guptill slamming an 84-ball-72 studded with 12 boundaries. Along with Tom Latham (39 from 40 balls; 4x4) he laid a solid foundation putting together 96 from 93 balls for the opening wicket before left-arm spinner Axar Patel (1/38) gave the much-needed breakthrough after a lacklustre performance by the seamers.
Guptill looked in full flow and completed his 31st ODI fifty from 56 balls but Hardik Pandya ended the threat inducing a thin edge of the Kiwi opener midway into their innings.
With 184/2 after 35 overs and a set Kane Williamson in the middle, New Zealand were still in sight of 300. But Amit Mishra (2/41) took the crucial wickets of Williamson (41 from 59 balls; 4x4) and James Neesham (6) in successive overs to derail the visitors gameplan. Williamson was foxed by the bounce and took an edge to Dhoni, while Neesham’s mistime found Kohli at cover as India did well to arrest their progress.
The Black Caps made three changes to their XI bolstering the spin attack with Ish Sodhi and Anton Devcich to go with Mitchell Santner, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling was included for the first time in the ODI series replacing Luke Ronchi.