Cricket: Clinical India thrash Kiwis to wrap up ODI series 4-1
Sports Scene

After suffering an 8-wicket humiliation in Hamilton, the Indians were playing for pride in the fifth and final One Day International (ODI) of their series against New Zealand in Wellington. In the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli, the gung-ho brigade did manage to add one more victory to their already unassailable lead and pocketed the series with a 4-1 margin.

Earlier, stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma elected to bat and the Indian top-order faced yet another early debacle after being reduced to 18 for 4. The fiery Kiwi pace duo of Matt Henry and the last ODI's hero Trent Boult struck early to rekindle the memories of Hamilton before Ambati Rayudu steadied the ship with Vijay Shankar. 

After Shankar put together a 98-run partnership to salvage the early embarrassments with Rayudu and fell for 45, Kedar Jadhav and subsequently Hardik Pandya helped India inch closer to a respectable total. Rayudu was dismissed in the nervous nineties after scoring 90 while Jadhav chipped in with a gritty 34.

Ambati Rayudu of India bats during game five in the One Day International series between New Zealand and India at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, February 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Ambati Rayudu of India bats during game five in the One Day International series between New Zealand and India at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, February 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

But it was Pandya, who returned to the squad after recent suspension, who stole the show towards the end of the innings. He hit three successive sixes off Todd Astle and slammed a quick-fire 45 off 22 balls to take the team total to 252. Henry was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers while Boult too joined the party with a three-wicket haul.

Even though the Black Caps began their chase on a positive note a fit-again Mohammed Shami, who was rested in the previous game, dealt a double blow to the hosts side by removing both the Kiwi openers Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls early in the innings. Captain Kane Williamson tried to consolidate with wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham but both perished when they seemed set to flourish in the middle. 

However, James Neesham batted brilliantly to keep the chase pretty much on but Indian wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's amazing presence of mind scripted Neesham's run out at a crucial juncture.

MS Dhoni of India celebrates after the run out of Jimmy Neesham of New Zealand during game five in the One Day International series at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, February 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

MS Dhoni of India celebrates after the run out of Jimmy Neesham of New Zealand during game five in the One Day International series at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, February 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Once the last Kiwi hope departed for 44, the Indian bowlers turned the screw and went for the jugular.

Spinner Yuzvendra Chahal bagged two wickets while all-rounder Pandya took two to bowl out the home side for 217 and handed over the tourists an emphatic win by 35 runs. 

Rayudu was adjudged the Player of the Match for his match-winning half-century.