Kanpur: India pulled out a cliffhanger by 6 runs to clinch the third and final ODI as well as the series against New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium here on Sunday.
Some terrific bowling during death overs by Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took the match out of the jaws of New Zealand which was looking to comfortably win the series being in a strong position at 306/4 in 46.4 overs with Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls batting at the crease.
Earlier in the second inning, New Zealand, coming in to chase a daunting target of 338 runs, got a decent yet fiery start as they were at 44 runs in 5 overs. Guptill was the first batsman to depart at the individual score of 10 runs off 14 balls with 1 four.
Guptill’s opening partner, Colin Munro was looking at his explosive best as he was not only rotating the strike consistently but was also scoring boundaries with ease. He scored 75 runs off 62 balls with 8 fours and 3 sixes.
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson also played a fantastic inning, though, failed to go further than 64 runs off 84 balls with 8 flourishing boundaries. The duo added 109 runs for the second wicket and helped New Zealand get into a comfortable position at 153 runs in 24 overs.
It was Indian leggie Yuzvendra Chahal who turned the match around for some time by plucking two wickets in quick successions and that of both the set batsmen (Munro and Williamson).
Then came the match winning pair of Ross Taylor and Tom Latham, which had helped Kiwis go 1-0 up in the series in the first match with a brilliant partnership. Taylor, however, failed to spill the same magic again and got out at 39 runs off 47 balls with 3 fours.
Tom Latham once again kept Indian bowlers in check as he was scoring freely and rotating the strike well. He unfortunately got run out in the 48th over of the match when his team needed only 26 runs to win off 13 balls. He scored 65 runs off 52 balls with 7 fours. Henry Nicholls also played a quick and crucial inning of 37 runs off 24 balls (5 fours, 1 six) which almost killed India’s hopes of winning the match as well as the series.
After the departure of Nicholls, Indian pace spearheads, Bumrah and Bhuvi, never let the Kiwis click as they kept bowling yorkers to not let the batsmen score easy boundaries.
Jasprit Bumrah was the pick of the bowlers as he plucked 3 wickets for 47 runs in 10 overs and also bowled an amazing spell during the slog overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have conceded 92 runs in his 10 overs for only 1 wicket, but he played a crucial role in the victory as he bowled a terrific yorker to dismiss Nicholls who was looking to finish the match in a hurry.
The only other wicket-taker was Yuzvendra Chahal who picked up two big wickets for 47 runs off 10 overs. Hardik Pandya remained wicket-less in his 5 overs and went for 47 runs, while Axar Patel bowled 7 overs for 40 runs while Kedar Jadhav bowled 8 overs for 54 runs.
This was simply a fabulous bowling performance especially by Indian pacemen who kept it really tight during the death overs to undone the mistake of the batsmen, who had probably failed to put up at least 25 runs lesser than expected.
Player of the match: Rohit Sharma for 147 off 138, 18 fours, 2 sixes
Player of the series: Virat Kohli for scoring 263 runs in three innings at a staggering average of 87.66
Earlier, a brilliant performance from opener Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli helped India post a daunting 337/6 in the match.
Rohit was the top scorer for India with 147 runs while Kohli slammed 113 to cross the milestone of 9,000 ODI runs.
Rohit struck his 15th century in ODIs, the fifth of this year and the first against New Zealand. Kohli slammed his 32nd ton and the fifth against the visitors to help India score the highest total in 15 ODIs here.
The previous was 303 by South Africa against India in 2015.
It was also Kohli’s sixth century in 2017, the most by a captain in a year. Previously, Sourav Ganguly (2000), Australia’s Ricky Ponting (2003, 2007), South Africa’s Graeme Smith (2005) and AB de Villiers (2015) struck five.
After a steady start, Rohit and Kohli displayed their class and temperament in the middle overs and helped India to cross the 250-run mark comfortably.
But after Rohit fell, the middle-order batsmen failed to perform. In the last 10 overs, India score only 85 runs, a credit to the visitors who got their death bowling spot on.
After being put in to bat, it was a steady start for India as both openers Shikhar Dhawan (14) and Rohit put on 29 runs with some brilliant strokes before Dhawan was dismissed by Tim Southee in the seventh over.
It turned out to be the only success for the visitors for a long time as Rohit and incoming batsman Kohli applied themselves perfectly in the middle to frustrate the New Zealand bowlers till the 42nd over.
Rohit set up the template and Kohli followed suit as the duo forged a 230-run partnership, the highest stand between the two, going past the 219 set against Sri Lanka earlier this year.
But just when things seemed perfect, Rohit was dismissed by Mitchell Santner, caught by Southee, while trying to pace up the innings. His 138-ball knock was laced with 18 boundaries and two sixes.
“Felt really good to spend some time out in the middle. Having missed out in the previous two games, I wanted to make it count,” Rohit said later.
New batsman Hardik Pandya, who was promoted up the order, joined Kohli but scored just eight runs in six balls.
After adding a few more runs, Kohli also departed. The Delhi batsman was sent back to the pavilion by Southee and caught by skipper Kane Williamson. He faced 106 balls and slammed one six and nine boundaries.
The fall of Kohli’s wicket brought in Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25) and Kedar Jadhav (18). Soon Dhoni and Jadhav were also sent packing by Adam Milne in the same over. But by then India had already reached a good total.
For New Zealand, pacer Tim Southee, Adam Milne and spinner Mitchell Santner scalped two wickets each.