Wellington, Jan 31 (IANS) A comprehensive performance from New Zealand fired them to a 87-run win over India in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI), clinching the series 4-0 at the Westpac Stadium here Friday.
A consecutive century by Ross Taylor powered the hosts to 303/5 in their 50 overs after being put in to bat. But the visitors could only manage 216 and were bowled out with two balls to spare. Pacer Matt Henry impressed on debut, taking 4/38 in 10 overs.
The loss meant India lost their second overseas series in a row after going down in South Africa.
The hosts struggled at the start against pacers Mohammed Shami (1/61) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/48). But New Zealand came back strongly, backed by a 152-run third-wicket partnership between Kane Williamson (88) and Taylor (102) which took them beyond the 300-mark.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to field first seemed like it was bearing fruit as Shami and Bhuvneshwar made up for their poor show at Hamilton Tuesday. Shami bowled three maidens from his first four overs while 23-year-old seamer Bhuvneshwar also kept things tight.
Openers Martin Guptill (16) and Jesse Ryder (17) resisted but could not keep the scoreboard ticking at a good rate. India tasted success when Ryder fell to Bhuvneshwar in the eighth over while last match centurion Guptill was caught off pacer Varun Aaron.
With the Black Caps reeling at 41/2 in the 13th over, man-in-form Williamson joined hands with Taylor, who scored an unbeaten 112 Tuesday, to rescue their team. The duo stabilised the innings first by making sure neither got out and then stepped on the accelerator in the middle overs.
Williamson scored his fifth consecutive half-century and his highest score of the tournament comprising eight beautiful boundaries and a huge six. Once the 23-year-old got caught at point while trying a square drive, Taylor took control of the innings.
Taylor hit 10 boundaries and a six to reach his 10th ODI century before being the last wicket to fall.
Skipper Brendon McCullum (23), James Neesham (34 not out) and Luke Ronchi (11 not out) also chipped in to take New Zealand to an imposing total.
After the initial few overs, the Indian bowlers struggled once more with only part-time bowler Virat Kohli (1/36) averaging below six per over. All other Indian bowlers leaked runs with only Aaron taking two wickets (2/60).
India started the chase poorly and crawled to 20 for two in the first 10 overs, allowing the run rate to increase right from the start.
Both openers Rohit Sharma (4) and Shikhar Dhawan (9) struggled. The World Champions were brought down to 30/3 by the 14th over and 78/4 as Ajinkya Rahane (2) and Ambati Rayudu (20) also perished quickly.
Man-in-form Kohli, however, again provided the fireworks with his fiesty knock of 82 laced with seven boundaries and three sixes. His fifth wicket 67-run partnership with Dhoni (47) revived hopes of India chasing down the stiff total.
That hope dimmed when Kohli got out trying to accelerate the run rate. Dhoni hardly got any support from the lower order and India once again succumbed to the Black Caps bowlers.
Apart from Henry, seamer Kyle Mills (2/35) and Williamson (2/19) took two wickets each while James Neesham (1/45) and Nathan McCullum (1/33) picked up one each.