VISAKHAPATNAM (INDIA), Oct. 29: Amit Mishra produced a magical spell to claim 5 for 18 as India clinched five-match ODI series 3-2 with a thumping 190-run victory in the final game, in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
It was a perfect Diwali gift for the Indian cricket fans as M.S. Dhoni’s men carried the demolition job in style as the spinners made Black Caps’ succumbed to their lowest-ever total against India in ODIs.
Batting first, India scored 269 for six on a surface where scoring was difficult as Rohit Sharma (70) and Virat Kohli (65) hit half-centuries.
In reply, New Zealand were skittled out for a paltry 79 in only 23.1 overs. There were five New Zealand batsman who failed to open their account during their dismal last day on Indian soil.
Mishra, who picked his second five-for was supported well by Axar Patel (2/9 in 4.1 overs) and Jayant Yadav (1/8 in 4 overs).
The leg-spinner, who did not get a chance during the Test series ended up with 15 wickets in the five-match series. Not only did his performance fetch him Man of the Match but also the Man of the Series award pipping Virat Kohli, who scored 358 runs with a century and two half-tons.
A score of 270 on a surface where the ball wasn’t coming onto the bat would have been a challenge but New Zealand would have hardly imagined that wickets will fall in a heap when they were placed at 63 for 2.
The visitors lost eight wickets with addition of just 16 runs in space of 51 balls dashing hopes of their first bilateral series win in India.
It took five balls for the Kiwis to realise that the road ahead is rocky when Umesh Yadav cleaned up last match’s hero Martin Guptill to make them 0/1 in first over.
Fresh from his match-winning 72 in Ranchi, Guptill was done in a by a beautiful good length ball from Yadav as it squared him up, grazed the pad before toppling the off-stump.
Skipper Kane Williamson and New Zealand’s most consistent batsman of the series, Tom Latham (19) tried to build a partnership but before they could settle down a fit-again Jasprit Bumrah gave another breakthrough dismissing the left-hander to end a 28-run partnership.
On a pitch that offered turn, Dhoni brought on left-arm spinner Axar in the ninth over as Williamson and Taylor survived some anxious moments in the middle and progressed at steady pace to being 46/2 after the Powerplay.
Little did they know that they would crash in no time as Dhoni employed spin-force full on from both ends and no one disappointed including debutant off-spinner Jayant, who trapped Corey Anderson (0) lbw en route to his maiden wicket.
It was Patel who broke Kiwi’s best partnership of the day that yielded 38 runs when the leftarm spinner dismissed the New Zealand skiper for 27 (4x4) in the 14th over.
Next over, Mishra took the wickets of Ross Taylor (19) and BJ Watling (0) in four balls before Jayat took his debut wicket.
The leg-spinner once again had a twin breakthroughs -- in the form of James Neesham (3) and Tim Southee (0) in the 20th over as it was as good as over for New Zealand who were tottering for 74/8 in 19.5 overs.
Earlier, Kohli and Rohit hit contrasting half-centuries on a slow track as India managed a decent 269 for 6 after opting to bat first.
After failure in the first four games, Rohit was in his element hitting 70 off 65 balls while Kohli had to fight for his runs on a track that got slower with every over, managing 65 off 76 balls.
Kohli, who finished on top of the run charts in the five match series with 358 runs from five matches at an average of 119.33, was dismissed by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (2/66) for the second time in succession when he tried to step out by only to be caught at long-off.
The Indian vice-captain was involved in two crucial 50-plus partnerships, first with Sharma and then with skipper MS Dhoni (41) but they lost three wickets for 30 runs with score of 220 for 5.
Manish Pandey got out for a duck but they averted danger with Kedar Jadhav playing a cameo of 39 from 37 balls.
He along with Axar Patel (24 from 18 balls) put together 46 from 39 to ensure that they get past 250.
The ODI world record holder for highest individual score was back in his usual explosive best slamming five boundaries and three sixes and had everything going in his way before a muscle cramp came in his way.
Rohit looked menacing during his time at the crease, Kohli was happy to play a second fiddle and rotated the strike on a slow track in an entertaining 79 partnership from 76 balls.
After Rohit got out, Kohli was involved in another crucial 71-run stand with Dhoni before the skipper was adjudged leg before to a dubious decision by debutant Indian umpire CK Nandan.
Sticking to No 4, Dhoni had a terrible start to his innings with five runs from 17 balls, and his first boundary came after 25 balls. Slowly he made up for the dot balls with four boundaries and one six but before he along with Kohli could make it big India lost three wickets in 30 runs.
The out-of-form Indian opener slammed his first 50 in five matches in an innings and he looked in ominous form before a muscle cramp in his right thigh made it difficult for him and he soon holed out to Neesham at deep mid-wicket.
On a turning wicket where the ball was not coming onto the bat, Rohit picked the balls at ease, hit with finesse and there was no way a Kiwi bowler could trouble him.
The only time Rohit looked in some discomfort was in the build-up to his entertaining half-century when he survived some loud leg before appeals, while the ball beat his outside his edge more than once in a slow start.
But he easily made up for the sluggish start racing to 50 from 49 balls cutting Sodhi through backward point, two balls later he slogged sweep the ball over deep midwicket boundary.
He also had luck going on his way and was dropped on 66 by none other than Ross Taylor who had done a similar act against Kohli on 6 in Mohali before the Indian vice captain steered home a seven-wicket chase with his masterly 154 not out.
The only he could have been beaten was by his own. Having dived to complete his single off the third ball of the 17th over, Sharma looked in pain and was tended by the physio.
But he was not in his same and struggled to take runs before getting out to a mishit.
Earlier India were off to a slow start and the score read 17 after five overs with Sharma, under pressure to perform, starting out with caution.
Fresh from a half-century, Rahane looked comfortable and played his shots before a soft dismissal when he gave Latham a catching practice at short midwicket.
Not known to experiment, especially in a series-decider Dhoni made a bold change handing offspinner Jayant Yadav a debut in place of Hardik Pandya, as India made another change with a fit-again Jasprit Bumrah replacing Dhawal Kulkarni.
Eyeing their maiden bilateral ODI series win in India from five contests, New Zealand brought in Corey Anderson in place of Anton Devcich.
The weather remained bright and sunny, allaying fears of the rain and storm forecast due to cyclone Kyant.(TH)
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