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The Report by Sidharth Monga
January 31, 2014
New Zealand 303 for 5 (Taylor 102, Williamson 88) beat India 216 (Kohli 82, Dhoni 47, Henry 4-38) by 87 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
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Matches: New Zealand v India at Wellington
Series/Tournaments: India tour of New Zealand
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor refused to take their collective foot off India bowlers' throats, as they took their partnership tally for the series to 463 - which is the highest for a total of four partnerships, and fourth-highest overall - setting India yet another 300-total, which India were always going to find difficult to chase with only two top specialist batsmen in any sort of form. In the process, Williamson set the New Zealand record for most runs in a bilateral series, his 361 being 18 more than Taylor's, who became only the second New Zealander to have scored 10 ODI centuries. If it was the old firm with the bat, with the ball Matt Henry came out of nowhere to register the third-best debut figures for a New Zealander and consign India to a 4-0 defeat, who are yet to win a match since they began touring in December.
It was almost like a contest for the Man-of-the-Series award between Taylor and Williamson, who came together at 41 for 2 in the 13th over. They had added 311 in the three chances they had got to bat together in the series, but this time New Zealand were most desperate for runs from them. And they delivered, forging a 152-run partnership to not only shore them up, but give them the momentum as well.
On the other hand, this pitch had something for the bowlers. The outfield was the slowest of the series, and the lush square made piercing gaps difficult. India conceded no boundary in the first over, and the four boundaries that were scored in the first 14 overs involved a certain degree of risk that required the batsmen to go over the infield.
Taylor began the delightful turnaround with two scorching drives, all along the ground, with one to the left of cover, and the second to the right, in the 15th over. The second of those brought up 250 runs for Taylor in the series. At that point, he was the only one in the New Zealand top seven to have not hit a six in the series.
The whole flow of the match turned in that over. Scoring suddenly began to look easy. R Ashwin had to be brought on, and there was nothing for him in the pitch. Williamson frustrated him by using his feet and reaching the pitch of the ball almost every time. On the odd occasion that he was beaten in the flight - like in the 16th over - he recovered well. Runs now came easily with Varun Aaron missing the accuracy of the opening bowlers. When Aaron conceded the second boundary of the 21st over, the first time that Taylor had gone aerial, the two had brought up another fifty-run stand.
Soon Williamson displayed what should be the image of this New Zealand summer: down the wicket, making room, and chipping one over extra cover. This happened for the first time in the 24th over, which took Williamson to within 16 of becoming only the second man to have scored fifties in all the matches of a five-ODI series. The fifty came duly, by which time he had overtaken Taylor, who followed suit and also brought up the hundred of the stand, their third of the series.
The 31st over had begun by then, and Williamson now began to break away from Taylor. He swept Ravindra Jadeja either side of fine leg for successive fours before painting another picture with an inside-out chip. When the Powerplay began, Taylor finally played his first slog of the series, sending Bhuvneshwar Kumar over midwicket for four. In the same over, Williamson ramped over the keeper's head. Taylor had pulled out an axe, Williamson was going at it with a blade, and India were bleeding profusely.
By the time Williamson, with seven wickets in hand over the remaining 12.3 overs, New Zealand were expected to add plenty to their 193 runs. Taylor finally hit his first six of the series, with his beloved slog-sweep that he had put away throughout the series. Shami's yorkers towards the end restricted the damage, with only 110 in the last 12.3 overs, but you suspected it was more than enough on this pitch and outfield.
Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan and Henry went on to prove that suspicion right. There were no loose balls on offer, and with the asking rate rising, desperate shots soon began to appear. The third of those, from Ajinkya Rahane, made it 30 for 3 in the 14th over, and although Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are superb chasers it was really getting too much. Kohli and Dhoni tried to take it deep before going bang, but once Kohli fell for 82 off 78, it was all over with not even half the runs scored in 36.1 overs.
For the first time since 2007, New Zealand had blanked a team ranked higher than them, and India were now one short of their longest winless streak in ODIs.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
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