Hosts India beat New Zealand in a cliff-hanger in the third ODI at Kanpur (29th October, 2017) by 6 runs and clinched the series 2-1. For the Men-in-Blue, this was the seventh bilateral ODI series win under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. The Black Caps came close to recording their maiden series win in India but failed to seize a golden opportunity in a tense run-chase.
After winning the toss in Kanpur, Kane Williamson opted to bowl. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan marched into the middle in the quench of providing a good start but Dhawan (14) skewed one to Williamson off Tim Southee's bowling.
Post the dismissal, run-machine Kohli and Rohit put up a mammoth 230-run second-wicket stand. This was their fourth double hundred partnership, the most by any pair in ODIs. The duo made batting look easy. Hitman, Rohit made his bat do the talking as he slammed his 15th ODI ton & also completed 1000 runs in 50-overs format in 2017. Captain, Kohli (113) went on to record his 32nd ODI hundred, his second of the series. He also became the quickest player to reach 9000 ODI runs by achieving this feat in 194 innings.
In the 41st over, Santner broke the partnership by dismissing Rohit (147). Hardik Pandya (8) was once again prompted to the No.4 spot but he did not last long.
Before falling prey to Adam Milne in the final over, MS Dhoni (25) and Kedar Jadhav's (18) cameo helped Team India post a mammoth score of 337/6. New Zealand bowlers did well to restrict India below 350 considering the way the duo of Rohit-Kohli were batting at one stage.
In reply, Colin Munro began the chase in an aggressive fashion with the Trinbago Knight Riders batsman smashing Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 19 runs in the first over of the chase. Martin Guptill’s (10) disappointing run continued, as he beccame Jasprit Bumrah 50th ODI scalp. However skipper Kane Williamson and Munro ensured that the Kiwis remained in the hunt with an enterprising 109-run second wicket partnership.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal’s brilliance though ensured that India fought back in the middle overs. First, he deceived Munro (75) in flight and had him clean bowled. Next, he got Williamson (64) to play a false shot, spooning an easy catch to Dhoni.
In a game that ebbed and flowed from one direction to the other, in-form batsmen Ross Taylor and Tom Latham kept the visitors fight alive by playing their natural game. Team India desperately needed a wicket and Bumrah rose to the occasion by sending a well-set Taylor (39) back to the hut in the 41st over to end a 79-run fifth wicket stand.
Latham continued to be a thorn for the hosts and in the company of Henry Nicholls kept up with the required run-rate. With 35 required off 24 balls, the Black Caps were at the doorstep of a historic maiden ODI series victory in India.
That’s when India’s brilliant death bowling once again came to the team’s rescue. Bhuvi, who had an otherwise off day, made a telling blow with a yorker that uprooted Nicholls’ (37) leg-stump. With pressure mounting, a miscommunication between Colin de Grandhomme & Latham (65) saw the end to the latter’s brilliant innings as Dhoni & Bumrah combined to run him out.
The hosts fought their way back in style and an exceptional final over from Bumrah (3/45) restricted New Zealand to 331/7. Rohit bagged the Man-of-the-Match award for his second consecutive ODI ton at Kanpur, while King Kolhi was adjudged as the Man of the Series for scoring 263 runs (comprising of two hundreds) at an average of 87.70.
Both the teams now head to Delhi, where they will face off in the first of three T20Is (1st November, 2017). It will be a big challenge for Team India as they face-off against the No.1 ranked T20I side. Having lost all the 5 T20I games to the Black Caps so far, there will be no dearth of motivation for Kohli & Co. as they hope to continue their brilliant run in the limited-overs format.