A listless Indian cricket team slumped to its worst ODI series defeat in New Zealand, going down 0-4, after the Black Caps hammered them by 87 runs in the inconsequential fifth and final one-dayer.
Going into the match trailing 0-3 in the five-match series, the famed India batting came a cropper once again, bundled out for 216 in 49.4 overs by New Zealand, while chasing 304 at Westpac stadium.
Virat Kohli’s 82 was the only saving grace as the visitors failed to put up a fight against the New Zealand bowlers, led superbly by debutant Matt Henry (4/38).
Earlier, Ross Taylor slammed his second successive hundred to power the hosts to an imposing 303 for five.
Besides the tie in the third ODI in Auckland, India had suffered defeats in Napier and Hamilton (twice) and today’s defeat continued their disastrous overseas performance as they had lost the ODI series against South Africa before coming here.
India had lost 2-5 to New Zealand in a seven-match ODI series in 2002-03. The last time the Indians failed to win even a single match in New Zealand was in 1975-76 and 1980-81, losing 0-2 in both the two-match series.
Put into bat, Taylor (102) shared a 152-run partnership with Kane Williamson (88), who scored his fifth consecutive half-century, for the third wicket to rescue New Zealand from a precarious 41-2 at one stage.
Taylor’s 106-ball innings was studded with 10 hits to the fence and one six, while Williamson blasted eight fours and one six in his 91-ball innings here.
For India, Varun Aaron (2-60) was the most successful bowler, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-48) and Mohammed Shami (1-61) provided decent support. Virat Kohli took the only other wicket to fall, while the spinners, R Ashwin (0-37) and Ravindra Jadeja (0-54) went wicket-less.
Chasing 304 runs for their first win on the tour, the Men in Blue got off to a disastrously slow start as they needed six overs to get to a double-digit score, losing a wicket in the interim.
Rohit Sharma (4) was the first to go, giving slip-catching practice to Taylor in the 5th over bowled by Kyle Mills (2-35).
Shikhar Dhawan (9), coming back into the eleven after spending the last match on sidelines, also looked uncomfortable as Henry finally get rid off him, taking this first international wicket.
The young pacer wounded up the left-handed batsman in the 10th over of the innings, before inducing an edge which was safely pouched in the slips.
Four over later, with the score at 30/2, Ajinkya Rahane (2) missed a straight delivery from Henry, trying to play it off his legs and was out plumb LBW.
India were staring at another massive defeat even as Kohli put up some resistance and finally he found some support in Ambati Rayudu. The latter took his time getting set, hitting two fours off the 40 balls he faced, but he couldn’t get past 20 runs.
Looking to hit Henry over square on the off-side, Rayudu stepped out and made room only to hit it straight to Williamson.
This was a serious blow for India, as the two batsmen had added 48 runs 64 balls, at a decent run-rate of 4.5 per over.
Yet again, India were left relying on Dhoni and Kohli and the duo tried hard, putting up 67 runs for the fifth wicket in 61 balls, stirring some hope for their hapless team.
In the 30th over of the innings, Kohli brought up his 30th ODI fifty, off 60 balls with five fours and one six.
Immediately thereafter, with the run-rate now climbing past 10-per-over, he decided to play big shots and found some success.
But he fell in the process, caught at long-on by substitute Peter Young-Husband off Nathan McCullum (1-33) in the 37th over. He scored 82 runs off 78 balls, with seven fours and three sixes.
There after, it was another slow procession for the lower-order batsmen as R Ashwin (7) and Ravindra Jadeja (5) failed to provide support to Dhoni.
After sometime, Dhoni too perished, caught at long-off trying to clear the ropes, off Williamson (2-19) in the 45th over. He scored 47 runs off 72 balls, with three fours, as the 4-0 score-line loomed large.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (20 runs, 25 balls, one four) became Henry’s fourth victim of the evening, as India were all-out in the final over of the innings as James Neesham (1-45) bowled Varun Aaron (0), with Mohammad Shami (14 not out, 15 balls, one six) at the other end.
Earlier, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss for a fifth consecutive time and opted to bowl first, reverting to his original strategy deployed in the first three matches.
There was a little cloud cover at the beginning as Bhuvneshwar (1-48) and Shami (1-61) made good use of the
conditions to keep a tight leash on the openers.
Jesse Ryder (17) tried to break the shackles but doing so gave away his wicket in the 8th over, with Ajinkya Rahane at gully holding on after on a second attempt.
Only 31 runs came in the first ten overs, with Martin Guptill (16 runs, 35 balls, two fours) falling soon after, caught by Shami off Varun Aaron in the 13th over. The bowler heaved a sigh of relief as he had earlier dropped Guptill when he was on 9.
There wasn’t any let up though as Williamson and Taylor once again put the Indian bowling to the sword in the middle overs and shared 152 runs off 151 balls to set the foundation of a big score.
Ashwin came on to bowl in the 14th over, but Jadeja was held back until the 23rd, even as Williamson and Taylor scored runs with ease. Their 50-run partnership came off only 50 balls in the 21st over, while the 100-mark came up for the Black Caps in the very next one.
Williamson went on to score his fifth consecutive half-century of the series, and his 11th overall in ODIs, reaching the mark off 64 balls, with three fours, in the 30th over. He equalled the record of Pakistan’s Yasir Hameed against New Zealand back in 2003, and in doing so, became only the second batsman to achieve this feat.
Meanwhile in the very next over, Taylor too brought up his third half-century of the series, getting there in 54 balls, with six fours.
They also celebrated their 100-run partnership in that over, and accelerated after that in pursuit of another 300-plus target.
The pairing reached their 150-run mark in the 37th over, but with the score on 193, Williamson was caught at point by Rahane off Aaron, missing a hundred once again.
Brendon McCullum then came out to bat in the second power play that yielded 42 runs for Williamson’s wicket, and he had two near escapes with Rohit Sharma failing to run him out in the 43rd over.
Then two balls later, Shami dropped him at long-on. The Kiwis’ skipper was on 18 at that time and went on to score 23 runs before offering a straight catch to Rohit off Virat Kohli in the very next over.
Thereafter, Taylor got to his second consecutive hundred in the series, and his 10th overall, following up from unbeaten 112 in the fourth ODI at Hamilton.
He got to the milestone in the 48th over, off 106 balls. He was out immediately afterwards, caught in the deep by Shikhar Dhawan off Shami off the very next ball.
With only a few balls remaining, Luke Ronchi (11) and Neesham threw their bats around in a bid to garner quick runs. The 23-year-old Neesham took 17 runs off the 50th over bowled by Shami as the 300-run mark came up.
The Indian death bowling was up to the mark leading up to that moment but still ended up giving away 91 runs in the last ten overs.