Ravindra Jadeja very nearly pulled off a sensational victory with some lusty hits but could not take India home in the last over as the third one-dayer against New Zealand ended in a nail-biting tie to keep the visitors afloat in the five-match series.
Chasing New Zealand’s stiff target of 315 largely built around opener Martin Guptill’s 111, India came back from the dead to tie the game, riding on R Ashwin’s 65 and Jadeja’s 45-ball unbeaten 66 to save themselves the blushes of another overseas ODI series defeat.
In the thrilling dying moments of the game, India needed 18 off Corey Anderson’s last over for a victory but Jadeja and last man Varun Aaron could get 17 to tie the game on a good batting track at the Eden Park.
The visitors needed just two runs off the last ball but Jadeja could manage just a single. Though India could not win the match, they can still draw the five-match series by winning the remaining two matches in Hamilton (Jan 28) and Wellington (Jan 31).
The tie also ensured that India remained in the number one position in the ICC ODI rankings, having regained it yesterday following Australia’s defeat to England in the fourth one-dayer.
Put into bat for the third time in a row, New Zealand piled up 314 with Guptill scoring his fifth ODI century and useful contributions from Kane Williamson (65) and Luke Ronchi (38). The score could have been much bigger had there not been not a minor collapse towards the end of the innings which pegged the Kiwis back to some extent.
The Indians got off to a fairly good start but Shikhar Dhawan (28) and Rohit Sharma (39) again squandered the start to let the team down badly.
The quick dismissals of the in-form Virat Kohli (6) and Ajinkya Rahane (3) served as a huge jolt for the visitors who suddenly slumped to 79 for four from 64 for no loss.
Captain Dhoni (50) and Suresh Raina (31) stitched 67 runs for the fifth wicket to keep India in the hunt. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja than put on 85 runs for the seventh wicket to raise hopes of a stunning victory.
Corey Anderson was the pick of the Kiwis bowlers with five for 63 though he appeared a trifle shaky in the tense last over.
During the Indian innings, Anderson tied down the two openers with a clever mix of deliveries and it resulted in a wicket.
Dhawan made 28 runs (off 25 balls) and was the first to go, pulling one straight to deep mid-wicket where Guptill took a fine, low catch. Only eight runs were scored when Rohit continued…