Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli both scored half centuries as India cruised to victory by 7 wickets against New Zealand in the third one day international at Bay Oval on Monday. The result saw the visitors take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five game series, with the Black Caps now facing several pressing questions about the balance and composition of their team ahead of the World Cup later this year.
India made 2 changes in the playing XI by bringing in Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya in place of the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Vijay Shankar respectively, while Colin de Grandhomme made way for Mitchell Santner for the Kiwis.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, New Zealand again started poorly as they lost Colin Munro early, caught at slip by Rohit Sharma off Mohammed Shami in the second over.
Martin Guptill looked solid in his short stay at the wicket, but was unable to convert it into something more substantial as he fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 13.
Skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor attempted to steady the ship by adding a 33 run stand for the third wicket, before the former was caught brilliantly by Pandya off Yuzvendra Chahal, as the home side slumped to 59/3.
Taylor and Tom Latham then stabilized the innings by adding 119 runs for the fourth wicket before the latter holed out to Rayudu in the deep shortly after reaching his half century.
Having taken a stunning catch to dismiss Williamson, the returning Pandya then got into the wickets coloumn by sending back Henry Nicholls and Santner in quick succession to leave the Kiwis in trouble at 198/6.
The twin dismissals forced Taylor to delay his death over onslaught as New Zealand were forced to revise their target. He eventually fell for 93, caught behind by Karthik off Shami in the 46th over.
The tail were unable to take the Black Caps past the 250 mark, with Sodhi caught in the deep and Doug Bracewell run out as they folded for 243 runs in 49 overs.
Mohammed Shami was India’s most successful bowler as he finished with figures of 3/41, while Kumar, Chahal and Pandya bagged 2 wickets each.
Chasing a target of 244 runs, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma started solidly by adding 39 runs for the first wicket, before Dhawan was caught in the slips by Taylor off Trent Boult.
Skipper Virat Kohli then joined Rohit and the duo added 113 runs for the second wicket, before the latter was stumped while attempting to hit Santner out of the park.
Kohli brought up his 49th half century before falling to a brilliant catch by Nicholls off the bowling of Boult for 60 runs.
The twin dismissals briefly raised New Zealand’s hopes of an unlikely victory, but they had too little to play with, and Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu steered their team home with an unbeaten 77-run stand for the fourth wicket. India reached the target with 7 overs to spare.
Skipper Kohli ended his tour on a high with a first ever ODI series win in New Zealand. He will not be featuring in the final two one dayers and T-20’s.
Mohammed Shami was again declared the player of the match for his brilliant spell of bowling. He had also won the MOTM in the first ODI in Napier.
The fourth one day international will be played on 31st January at Hamilton.