India’s much maligned middle order came to the fore at the Basin Reserve as the visitors defeated New Zealand by 35 runs in the fifth and final One Day International in Wellington. The Men in Blue were 18/4, but reached a competitive score thanks to a 90 from Ambati Rayudu and a ballistic 22 ball 45 from Hardik Pandya at the end.
India included Vijay Shankar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mohammed Shami for Kuldeep Yadav, Dinesh Karthik and left arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed respectively, while the home side had only one injury enforced change, with Colin Munro returning in place of Martin Guptill.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, India started badly by losing Rohit Sharma who was bowled by a fine delivery from Matt Henry for just 2.
Hamilton hero Trent Boult got into the act by claiming the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan who slashed one hard, but into the hands of Henry at third man.
19 year old Shubman Gill, playing his second game of the series, ended up giving an easy catch to cover while another fantastic Boult delivery rattled MS Dhoni’s stumps to leave India at 18/4.
The pair of Rayudu and and Shankar gutsed it out and lead India’s recovery by adding a valuable 98 run stand for the fifth wicket, before an unfortunate mix up saw the latter run out for 45.
Shankar’s dismissal saw Rayudu up the ante at one end as Kedar Jadhav took time to settle in at the other. However Henry returned to dismiss both Rayudu and Jadhav as the Black Caps fought their way back into the game.
A late onslaught from Hardik Pandya (45 off 22), that included three consecutive sixes off spinner Todd Astle, helped the Men in Blue reach the 250 run mark.
They were eventually bowled out for 252 runs in 49.5 overs. Henry was New Zealand’s most successful bowler as he claimed 4/35, while Boult bagged 3 wickets.
Chasing a target of 253, the Black Caps lost Henry Nicholls early, caught by Jadhav off Mohammed Shami for 8 runs. Munro looked good in his short stay but became Shami’s second victim as he was bowled for a quickfire 24.
The home side then lost Ross Taylor leg before wicket to Pandya, although replays showed Taylor would’ve survived if New Zealand had opted for a review.
Kane Williamson and Tom Latham steadied the innings by adding 67 runs for the fourth wicket, before the part time of Kedar Jadhav accounted for Williamson, who never quite looked like his original self, for 39.
Yuzvendra Chahal then claimed the wickets of Latham and Colin De Grandhome in quick succession to leave the Kiwis at 135 for 6.
The pair of Jimmy Neesham and Santner gave the home side a glimmer of hope by adding 41 runs for the seventh wicket before an outstanding piece of thinking from MS Dhoni accounted for Neesham.
Santner and Astle tried their best to get New Zealand close but failed to do so, with the Black Caps eventually bundled out for 217 runs in 44.1 overs.
Chahal was India’s best bowler as he claimed 3 wickets for 41 runs in his allotted 10 overs, while Shami and Pandya bagged 2 wickets each.
Ambati Rayudu was declared the player of the match, while Shami was named Player of the series.
The focus now shifts to the T-20 international with the first of three to be played at this same venue on 6 February.