Taylor’s ton seals series for New Zealand (Roundup)

Hamilton, Jan 28: Ross Taylor struck his ninth ODI century to enable New Zealand seal the five-match series against India — winning the fourth game here Tuesday by seven wickets and taking an unassailable 3-0 lead.

For India, it was their second successive ODI series loss away from home. They had lost in South Africa 0-2 in the three-match series last month.

In a must-win encounter, India, batting first, put up a competitive 278 for five in 50 overs.

The Indian batsmen were led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who remained unbeaten on 79 off 73 balls while Ravindra Jadeja scored 62 not out off 54. Opening batsman Rohit Sharma made 79 off 94.

The Indians, however, lost the game because of their erratic fast bowling, negating the good work done by spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.

The Kiwis achieved the target without any hiccups with 11 balls to spare. Former skipper Ross Taylor hit an unbeaten 112 off 127 balls while captain Brendan McCullum remained not out on 49. Kane Williamson also struck a valuable 60.

Taylor was adjudged Man of the Match. The fifth and final ODI — now inconsequential — will be played at Wellington Friday.

Jesse Ryder (19) and Martin Guptill (35) gave the hosts a flying start and they reached 50 in the seventh over. They departed in consecutive overs, but Williamson and Taylor made sure that the boundaries kept flowing. They added 130-runs for the third-wicket before Williamson was run out by Jadeja’s direct hit.

Taylor and McCullum then took the team home safely with their 92-run unfinished stand. Taylor dealt only in fours hitting 15 of them while the captain hit three sixes and four fours during his 56-ball knock.

Earlier in the day, Rohit stabilised the innings up the order while Dhoni and Jadeja struck a quick unbeaten 127-run stand for the sixth wicket to power India to what looked like a good total on a slow track.

Dhoni and Jadeja smashed the Kiwis to all parts of Seddon Park smashing 100 runs in the last 10 overs.

India opened with Rohit and Virat Kohli, who was promoted up the order in place of Shikhar Dhawan, who made way for Ambati Rayudu.

Both Kohli (2) and Ajinkya Rahane (3) perished playing the pull shot again. Kohli top-edged Tim Southee to Jimmy Neesham at mid-wicket while Rahane fell to Kyle Mills and found Southee in the deep.

Rohit, who was dropped by Taylor on 14 at slips off Southee, made the most of the opportunity and brought the innings back on track with Rayudu (37).

The duo added 79 runs for the third wicket and played some dazzling shots. Rayudu struck three fours and two sixes while Sharma hammered four maximums and six fours.

Just when it looked that India had recovered some ground, they suffered a mini batting collapse, from 101 for two they were down to 151 for five.

Dhoni and Jadeja then took control of the proceedings and blasted their way through to fiery half-centuries.

Jadeja, who starred with the bat in the tied match in Auckland, notched up his second consecutive half-century.

Dhoni also played his third back-to-back fifty and it was studded with three sixes and six fours. Dhoni finished off the innings in style with a massive six that sailed over the mid-wicket boundary.

All-rounder Stuart Binny made his ODI debut and replaced Suresh Raina while Dhawan sat out for Rayudu.

IANS