New Zealand leveled the ODI series at two wins apiece after beating India by 19 runs in the fourth match today. Chasing a total of 261, the Indian middle order collapsed as New Zealand leveled the series taking the game to a decider at Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
Kohli and Rahane settle the team after early Rohit dismissal
India got off to the worst possible start as Rohit Sharma was the victim of a perfect Southee out-swinger. The Mumbai batsman tried to play a defensive shot off a ball that was slightly short of length but could only edge it to Bradley Watling leaving India struggling at 19/1. Virat Kohli, who played a magnificent match-winning innings in the last ODI, joined Ajinkya Rahane at the crease. The duo started off gingerly, but once they got used to the pace of the wicket, they started scoring at a higher rate taking the score to 50/1 after 10 overs.
With boundaries coming scarce, the duo rotated the strike well to keep the scoreboard ticking. New Zealand, however, got the all important wicket of Kohli in the 20th over ending the 79-run partnership for the second wicket. Sodhi's ball was short and wide outside off, but Kohli was fooled by a bit of extra bounce as the ball took a very thin edge off the bat on its way to Watling. Dhoni came in next but struggled to even rotate the strike scoring just 11 off 31 balls before being cleaned out by Jimmy Neesham who found a gap between bat and pad. This just doubled the problem for India as Rahane had made his way back to the pavilion, in the 28th over, after being caught plumb in front of
Axar Patel and Amit Mishra make
Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav were quick to follow the middle order back to the pavilion. Axar Patel and Amit Mishra took India forward with a 38-run partnership, but two wickets in three balls left India stranded on 207/9. The match was all but over at that point, but Umesh Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni refused to give up. The duo brought the game close with a wonderful 34-run partnership - the highest 10th wicket partnership for India against New Zealand. Kulkarni scored 23 off 24 balls with some delightful whacks to the boundary to give the fans some hope. However, New Zealand
Earlier in the day, New Zealand won the toss for the first time on the tour, and Kane Williamson chose the unpopular option of batting first with three spinners in the team. New Zealand got off to a great start with both Tom Latham and Martin Guptill scoring freely. Dhawal Kulkarni found himself at the end of most of the run scoring shots that the Kiwi openers had to offer
The introduction of spin slowed the Kiwis down, and it was Axar Patel who got India the breakthrough. In the 16th over with the score at 96, Latham tried to sweep a ball from well outside off stump and ended up getting a leading edge that deflected the ball right into Rahane's hands at short fine leg. Eight overs later with the scoreboard still reading 136, Guptill made his way back after nicking a Pandya ball straight into Dhoni's gloves for a score of 72(84). Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson(41) settled the innings well with both players dispatching bad balls to the boundary taking the score to 184 in 35 overs.
New Zealand's middle order crumbles yet again
As they have done over and again on this tour, the Kiwis were not able to capitalize on the great start they made. New Zealand lost five wickets for just 59 runs as the score reached 242/7. The pick of the wickets was the run-out inflicted by MS Dhoni on Ross Taylor(35). As Taylor tried to steal a second run, after guiding the ball to fine leg, Dhoni collected the throw back and flicked the ball towards the wicket without looking. The replays suggested that Taylor was just short of his crease.
Mitchell Santner(17) and Tim Southee (9) made sure that New Zealand had a decent score to defend as the visitors finished their innings at 260 off their allotted fifty overs. For the Indians, the spinners were the pick of the bowlers as they restricted the run flow with Amit Mishra being the best among the lot ending with figures of 3/29.