KL Rahul 112(113), Shreyas Iyer 62(63); Hamish Bennett 4/64
New Zealand: 300/5
Henry Nicholls 80(103), Martin Guptill 66(46); Yuzvendra Chahal 3/47
MoM: Henry Nicholls
Player of the series: Ross Taylor
How the tables have turned. Essentially, when Jasprit Bumrah concludes a series wicketless, the writing is on the wall for India. New Zealand, having suffered a reprehensible whitewash in the T20 series, have retaliated ferociously and given India a taste of their own medicine by clean sweeping the one-dayers in emphatic fashion.
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KL Rahul's delightful hundred proved futile as New Zealand overhauled India's challenging 296 with Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls leading the charge, followed by a sizzling 21-ball half-century from Colin de Grandhomme. Playing equally important role in the win was paceman Hamish Bennett, who's magnificent 4-wicket haul stifled India's first-innings' progress in Bay Oval's dead rubber.
India's openers misfire again
Earlier in the day, KL Rahul's fourth ODI century resurrected India's ship after New Zealand's disciplined bowling approach saw the visitors run into trouble straight away. Boosted by skipper Kane Williamson's return, the hosts capitalised maximum advantage as the ball nipped around hoops. While Mayank Agarwal lost his off stump to an absolute peach from tearaway Kyle Jamieson, Virat Kohli, rather uncharacteristically, never looked in his element and perished cheaply, slashing Hamish Benett's half-tracker straight down third man's throat. Prithvi Shaw unfurled mesmerising backfoot punches and flamboyant cuts en route his sprightly 40, but departed majorly unaccomplished, as de Grandhomme's off-balance throw caught him a yard short on the lookout for a brace.
Rahul leads solid counter
The scoreboard read 62/3, and the ghosts of Auckland's dreadful batting collapse were returning to haunt India when Shreyas Iyer and Rahul joined forces to help India recover from the top-order wobble. The proactive duo, having negotiated few menacing spells, blew apart New Zealand's second line of attack with textbook drives and flicks. Iyer, serving the mantle of the chief aggressor, didn't shy away from taking the aerial route and punished spinners whenever they erred albeit marginally in lengths.
Though the dynamic right-hander chipped one off the leading edge to mid-wicket post reaching the half-century landmark, his 100-run partnership with Rahul had provided India the impetus they required. However, the wicket brought minimal respite for New Zealand as Rahul broke loose - consuming just 38 deliveries to jump from fifty to hundred - and forged another vital 107-run stand in company with Manish Pandey to significantly consolidate India's position.
Things could've been slightly different for New Zealand had Mitchell Santner hit bull's eye when Rahul miscalculated a quick single on his personal score of 64. Despite Rahul's beautiful ton inflicting considerable damage, the lack of power-hitting during the slog overs meant India underachieved, and eventually there weren't enough runs on the board to secure a morale-boosting consolation victory for the tourists. Reflecting on the series loss, skipper Virat Kohli said
"The games were not as bad as the scoreline suggests. Batsmen coming back from tough situations was a positive sign for us, but the way we fielded and bowled, the composure wasn't enough to win games. Didn't deserve to be on the winning side at all this series. Haven't played so badly, but we didn't grab opportunities. It was a good experience for the new guys who came in. They are still finding their feet. They (New Zealand) played with lot more intensity than we did. They deservedly won 3-0. We are excited for the Test series. We now have a balanced team. We feel we can win the series, but we need to step out on the park with the right kind of mindset."
Martin Guptill runs riot
Chasing 297, Martin Guptill's blitz headlined the powerplay, where the explosive opener dismantled India's pace spearhead Bumrah and Navdeep Saini with aplomb. An off-color Bumrah bore the brunt of Guptill's aggression with the highlight being an audacious short-arm pull over cow corner. Just as the prodigious swashbuckler threatened to bully India out of the contest, Yuzvendra Chahal produced a jaffa from thin air to rattle his timber, and lift India's spirits.
Spinners plot New Zealand's downfall
Much to India's delight, the wicket was aiding spin and hence, New Zealand found strike rotation taxing. This middle phase proved decisive in the match's context with tweakers leading India's strong resurgence. Though Henry Nicholls responsibly played the sheet-anchor role, keeping the host nation in the hunt throughout. But Chahal was almost unplayable on the sluggish track and the leggie scalped another big fish, Kane Williamson who ended up doling a sitter to mid-wicket. New Zealand's chase suddenly appeared to derail at the halfway mark with Ross Taylor becoming the latest victim of the surface's double-paced nature, and Henry Nicholls flashing at width to his own peril.
So near, yet so far
James Neesham too sucummbed to Chahal's prowess, but Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme clicked in unison to stage a valiant rearguard action, quashing any prospect of India's resurgence. Shardul Thakur was spanked all over the park as de Grandhomme went berserk and applied the finishing touches as India gasped cluelessly, watching the pinch-hitting alll-rounder depositing the ball into the stands with ridiculous ease.