KL Rahul’s impressive knock of 112 went in vain as India fell to a five wicket defeat in the third and final ODI in Mount Maunganui on Tuesday. The result saw hosts New Zealand take the series 3-0- the first time in over 30 years that India have lost all the games of a bilateral ODI series.
The visitors dropped Kedar Jadhav and included Manish Pandey, while the home side were bolstered by the return of regular skipper Kane Williamson from injury. Having recovered from illness, Mitch Santner also took his place in the XI with Mark Chapman dropping out.
After being sent into bat by Williamson, India lost Mayank Agarwal cheaply in the second over to Kyle Jamieson. Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s lean series continued as he made just 9 before being dismissed. Going for an uncharacteristically risky shot early in his innings, Kohli was caught at third man by Jamieson off the bowling of Hamish Bennett.
The in-form duo of Shreyas Iyer and Rahul added 100 runs for the fourth wicket before a diving catch by Colin de Grandhomme saw Iyer depart for a well made 62.
The 27 year old Rahul was involved in yet another valuable stand of 107 runs for the fifth wicket along with Karnataka team mate Manish Pandey before Bennett stuck twice in quick succession to send both well-set batsmen back to the pavillion.
At the end of their allotted 50 overs, India finished on 296/7- a competitive score but perhaps 20-30 runs lower than what they might have expected when Rahul and Pandey were at the crease.
For the home side, Bennett was the star with the ball, bagging 4/64 in his 10 overs.
New Zealand’s opening pair of Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls laid a solid foundation at the top for their chase by putting on 106 runs for the opening wicket. Guptill in particular looked very impressive for his 66 before he was bowled by a peach of a delivery by Yuzvendra Chahal.
Kane Williamson looked at ease in his knock of 22 before being caught by Agarwal, with Chahal again the wicket taker.
When Ross Taylor and the well-set Nicholls both departed in quick succession, the Black Caps appeared to be in a bit of a bother, with memories of their struggles in the T20’s still at the back of their minds.
Colin de Grandhomme however put those worries to rest as his quickfire 58 saw the hosts ease to the target of 297 in 47.1 overs. De Grandhomme has had a miserable summer with the bat, but when on song, can be a match winner, as shown today.
Henry Nicholls was declared the Man of the Match, while Taylor was adjudged the Player of the Series.
The focus now shifts to the longest format, with both teams locking horns in the two-test series beginning February 21.