Epic series victory for the BLACKCAPS

Epic series victory for the BLACKCAPS

India (MS Dhoni 79*, Rohit Sharma 79, Tim Southee 2-36,  Kyle Mills 1-42) lost to BLACKCAPS (Ross Taylor 112*, Kane Williamson 60, Brendon McCullum 49*) by seven wickets. 

Behind a Ross Taylor century, the BLACKCAPS landed the knock-out punch in Hamilton tonight, beating India by seven wickets to take an unassailable 3-0 series lead. An unbeaten 79 from captain MS Dhoni saw India post a respectable 278 for five in the first innings, but the BLACKCAPS' consistency with the bat was once again on display, culminating with a Brendon McCullum six to end proceedings with 11 balls in hand. One thing is now for certain  - the BLACKCAPS will no longer be able to go under the radar at the World Cup next year.

Nearly everything went to script at Seddon Park for the hosts, with Taylor (112*), Kane Williamson (60) and McCullum (49*) putting on a supreme performance with the bat.

The pursuit got off to a flying start, with Jesse Ryder (19) and Martin Guptill (35) racing to 54 without loss after seven overs. 

They departed in quick succession, to bring Williamson and Taylor together. Thanks to the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja they were initially pegged back, but soon found their rhythm and took control. 

The pair showed they weren’t afraid of hard graft, running hard between the wickets as opposed to regular boundaries. After 30 overs they had held the required run-rate down to six per over, while still having eight wickets in hand. 

Williamson brought up his fourth consecutive half-century, making it four from four in the series so far. Taylor too surpassed 50 and the pair were looking almost unstoppable, until a run-out by Jadeja saw Willamson depart with the BLACKCAPS still requiring 91 to win.

A brief rebuilding process took place when McCullum came to the crease. The equation was 67 off 60 with seven wickets in hand, but Taylor was looking as solid as ever and McCullum started to play his shots. 

A couple of sixes from McCullum put the BLACKCAPS in an even better position, but the biggest cheer of the night was still to come. 

After 131 minutes at the crease Taylor brought up his ninth ODI century, bringing up the milestone off 110 balls. It continues Taylor's tremendous summer, with the 29-year-old’s temperament something to behold. 

With 18 required off the last three overs McCullum decided enough was enough and blasted the final runs in quick fashion. He finished one short of his half-century, but alongside Taylor had the honour of seeing out the final runs. 

It was a clinical run chase from the BLACKCAPS and one they’re likely to remember for a long time. 

Earlier, India opted to bat after winning the toss and decided to experiment with Virat Kohli opening. It may well be the last time they take that option, with the BLACKCAPS jubilant after getting out the danger man in the fourth over. 

Ajinkya Rahane fell for two shortly afterwards and India were sitting precariously at 22 for two in the ninth over.

Despite the slow start, opener Rohit Sharma saw out the initial speed bump and put on a 79-run third wicket partnership with Ambati Rayudu. Just as the pair were beginning to elevate the strike-rate, Rayudu fell for 37, with Sharma then departing in the 33rd over for 79. 

The visitors struck up another partnership between Dhoni and Eden Park hero Jadeja. The pair worked their side calmly through to 200 for five after 42 overs, before an onslaught of boundaries in the final overs. 

With Jadeja’s belligerent knock in the third ODI still fresh in the BLACKCAPS minds, they would have been desperate to see the back of him early. Once again though he proved a thorn in their side, crashing an unbeaten 62 from 52 balls. 

Dhoni too was in top form, blazing six fours and three sixes in a 73-ball knock. Between he and Jadeja, India set the BLACKCAPS a more than competitive target of 279 to win. 

Tim Southee led the BLACKCAPS bowling attack and finished with figures of two for 36 from 10 overs. 

The fifth and final ODI will be played on Friday at Westpac Stadium in Wellington – how good would 4-0 sound? 

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