Wellington, Jan 31: A consecutive century by Ross Taylor powered New Zealand to 303/5 in their 50 overs in the fifth and the final One-Day International (ODI) against India at the Westpac Stadium here Friday.
Put in to bat, the hosts struggled at the start in front of pacers Mohammed Shami (1/61) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/48). But New Zealand came back strongly, backed by a 152-run third-wicket partnership between Kane Williamson (88) and Taylor (102) which took them beyond the 300-mark.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to field first seemed like it was bearing fruit as Shami and Bhuvneshwar made a good comeback from the loss at Hamilton Tuesday. Shami bowled three maidens from his first four overs while 23-year-old seamer Bhuvneshwar also kept things tight.
Openers Martin Guptill (16) and Jesse Ryder (17) resisted and could not keep the scoreboard ticking at a good rate. India tasted success when Ryder fell to Bhuvneshwar in the eighth over while Guptill, who scored 111 in Auckland, was caught off pacer Varun Aaron.
With the Black Caps reeling at 41/2 in the 13th over, man-in-form Williamson joined hands with Taylor, who scored an unbeaten 112 Tuesday, to rescue their team. The duo stabilised the innings first by making sure neither gets out and then stepped on the accelerator in the middle overs.
Williamson scored his fifth consecutive half-century and his highest score of the tournament which comprised eight beautiful boundaries and one huge six. Once the 23-year-old got caught at point while trying a square drive, Taylor took control of the innings and anchored his team forward.
Taylor hit 10 boundaries and six to reach his 10th ODI century before being the last wicket to fall, having set the innings for New Zealand.
Skipper Brendon McCullum (23), James Neesham (34 not out) and Luke Ronchi (11 not out) also chipped in to take New Zealand to more than a fighting total.
After the initial few overs, the Indian bowlers struggled once more with only part-time bowler Virat Kohli (1/36) averaging below six per over. All other Indian bowlers went for six or more per over with only Aaron taking two wickets (2/60).