India produced a brilliant fightback to win the fifth and final ODI against New Zealand by 35 runs and wrap up an emphatic 4-1 series victory.
Ambati Rayudu’s battling 90 and a cameo from Hardik Pandya helped India recover from a precarious position of 18/4 to set a target of 253.
In response, the hosts got off to a poor start thanks to disciplined bowling from India’s new-ball bowlers, with Mohammed Shami, back in the side in place of Khaleel Ahmed after a one-match rest, picking up openers Henry Nicholls and Colin Munro, who came back into the XI for the injured Martin Guptill but couldn’t turn around a dismal series. Pandya then came in and got the dangerous Ross Taylor for just one.
A 69-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Kane Williamson and Tom Latham helped steady the New Zealand innings, but then India’s spinners came to the fore.
Kedar Jadhav displayed his knack for picking up crucial wickets yet again, getting Williamson to hole out looking for a big shot, before Yuzvendra Chahal picked up Latham and Colin de Grandhomme in quick succession.
Jimmy Neesham briefly raised hopes of a victory with a cameo to match Pandya’s, but an inexplicable run-out cut short his innings just as he was threatening to take the game away from India, before Chahal, Pandya, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar closed out the innings.
Earlier, Rayudu’s battling innings helped India recover after a second straight top-order collapse from India, with Trent Boult and Matt Henry picking up two wickets each to leave India in dire straits at 18/4 after Rohit Sharma had won the toss and elected to bat.
Boult picked up the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni, back in the side after missing the last two games, and ended with figures of 3/39, while Henry starred to take 4/35, including the early wickets of Sharma and Shubman Gill, whose tough initiation to international cricket continued.
Rayudu stitched together a vital 98-run partnership with Vijay Shankar, and though he was responsible for the latter being run out just short of a maiden 50 in his first ODI innings, the partnership had stabilised India, allowing Rayudu to consolidate with Jadhav and setting up Pandya for a late-overs blast. Pandya’s 45 off 22 gave India a defendable total, and the bowlers did the rest.
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