New Zealand cleaned up India by 87 runs in the fifth and final ODI here at Wellington to notch up a convincing 4-0 series whitewash. This game seemed to be yet another carbon copy of what has been transpiring in the previous games.
India won the toss for the fifth time in the series. New Zealand, being put into bat, registered a mammoth 303 on the board, by the dint of good, prolonged partnerships, specially the 154-run stand between Kane Williamson(88) and Ross Taylor(102).
India,while chasing, never got going, except for a brief spell of hope given by the seasoned duo of Dhoni and Kohli. Debutant all-rounder Matt Henry picked up 4 wickets. Taylor was adjudged the Man of the Match for his terrific ton.
Let’s have a look at the heroes and flops of the Day :
Taylor composed his second century on the trot, scoring a purposeful 102 off 106 deliveries. His task was eased off a wee bit, thanks to some wayward bowling by the seamers and spinners alike. The distinctive aspect about this innings of his was once again his off-side play, particularly the late cuts against the spinners.
He smacked his first six in the series with a trademark hoick over mid-wicket. His strike rate hovered around run-a-ball for most part, even in the process of rebuilding the innings, along with Williamson, when the blackcaps were two down with 41 on the board.
The debutant had a near-perfect outing. He picked up 4 wickets which included the likes of Dhawan, Rahane and Rayudu. Henry generated good pace, swung the ball away from the right-handers and most essentially, contained Kohli and Dhoni in the middle overs just when the asking run rate was climbing. He gave away just 38 runs in his 10 overs, which included one maiden.
Kohli was the only batsman who countered the hostile pace bowling with grit and determination, not just this game but all through the series. He went about his business as usual without being overtaken by the asking rate. He couldn’t take India over the line, but paced through a formidable one-day innings, being cautious early on, only to cut loose when he got set.
Just when his partnership with Dhoni was flowing along, Virat holed out in the deep, scoring 82 off 78 balls. His wristwork and bat speed, while playing the big shots was outstanding. Kohli was a definitely ‘a cut above the rest of the Indian batsmen’, as the commentators mentioned.
A special mention to Kane Williamson, who scored his 5th half century (88 off 91) in this series. He has become only the second batsman in the world to score 5 half centuries in a bilateral ODI series, the first being Yasir Hameed of Pakistan.
The law of averages seems to be catching up Dhawan. Making his way back into the team today, Dhawan disappointed yet again with a very ordinary performance, scoring just 9 off 28 deliveries. His innings was neither watchful nor intentful – flashing at deliveries too close for comfort on one hand, while not trying to put an accurate Kyle Mills, off his length. Dhawan seemed to be helpless when faced with a barrage of half-trackers. Finally, he was dismissed by Henry caught at first slip, to end a wasteful innings.
This was supposed to be a make or break innings for Rahane, and yet again, he couldn’t impress. In his short stint facing 10 deliveries, Rahane managed a meagre 2 runs. He got out plum in front, off an in-swinging delivery by Henry. One couldn’t figure out what he was trying to do – flicking to leg side a straight one on the off stump only to miss it.
Ashwin stretched his poor run of form with the ball, continuing to remain wicket-less in overseas conditions. Even the skipper, MS Dhoni lost confidence in his once go-to bowler. Having conceded 37 runs off his 6 overs, he was removed from the attack well before the batting powerplay, and never brought back afterwards.
Ashwin was found wanting against the duo of Taylor and Williamson, who danced down the wicket time and again. He couldn’t, hence, stick to a line and length. There was no help from the wicket either, making him all the more ineffective.