India 337 for 6 (Rohit 147, Kohli 113, Santner 2-58) beat New Zealand 331 for 7 (Munro 75, Latham 65, Williamson 64, Bumrah 3-47, Chahal 2-47) by six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Agarkar: India would feel they got out of jail
India beat New Zealand by six runs to seal the three-match ODI series 2-1 in Kanpur
Elation, after a seventh straight bilateral ODI series win, for India. Heartbreak for a New Zealand side that has been among the best prepared and most tenacious limited-overs teams to visit the country in recent years. Why is this only a three-match series?
New Zealand came to Kanpur with a poor record in ODI deciders in India. In each of their three previous attempts, their batting had let them down: they fell short of 200 in both 1995 and 1999 and, on this day last year, imploded to 79 all out.
It's not the proudest record, and on Sunday New Zealand were set quite a task to break their decider duck in India. With Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli scoring hundreds and becoming the first ODI pair to combine in four double-century stands, India set them 338 to win. They had only completed two bigger successful chases.
That set the stage for the two teams to trade punch and counter-punch in a riveting microcosm of the entire series.
Colin Munro set things rolling by stepping out and carting the third ball of the innings over the midwicket boundary. The next three balls disappeared for fours, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar - steady, dependable Bhuvneshwar Kumar - was dazed and bemused. Trying to somehow cramp Munro for room with round-the-wicket bouncers, he sent down three wides in his third over, and by the end of his first spell was nursing figures of 0 for 51 in five.
But at the other end, Jasprit Bumrah kept things sane, extracting whatever little help a flat Green Park pitch could give him by hitting it hard with maximum backspin or, in the case of his slower offcutter, sidespin. His first spell read 4-0-12-1, Martin Guptill an excellent choice for 50th ODI wicket.
New Zealand remained on track, with Munro and Kane Williamson adding 109 for the second wicket and moving the score to 153 for 1 in the 25th over. The counter-punch, this time, came from Yuzvendra Chahal, the only other bowler apart from Bumrah to get something out of the surface. He did this by means of hard-spun legbreaks - one drifted away from Munro and broke back in to bowl him through the gate, the other, dangled slower and wider, forced Williamson to miscue a slog-sweep. New Zealand, suddenly, were 168 for 3.
Enter Tom Latham, New Zealand's most improved and most impressive batsman on this tour. In Mumbai he had swept his way to a match-winning hundred; his innings here was perhaps even better, showcasing not just deftness against spin but also pristine timing against the fast bowlers, particularly square on the off side and off his legs. He dominated a 79-run stand with Ross Taylor, and then added 59, off just 40 balls, with the scrappy and highly effective Henry Nicholls.
When Bhuvneshwar, producing the perfect yorker on a day when little else went right for him, ended that stand, New Zealand needed 32 off 19 to win. Not the worst time for your biggest hitter to walk in.
Except it wasn't to be Colin de Grandhomme's day; his indecision played a part in Latham being run out for 65 off 52, and he didn't seem to have his hitting gloves on either. With Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah landing a dew-sodden ball there or thereabouts in the closing overs, the target slipped away from New Zealand's reach. It came down to 15 off the last over, but they were never going to get it against Bumrah in this sort of form.
New Zealand could have been chasing significantly more than 338 had their bowlers not pulled India back through the last 10 overs, in which they took five wickets while conceding only 85.
Three of those were the result of catches at long-off - a not insignificant detail, for it encapsulated the value of the fifth boundary fielder in the third Powerplay. In the last five overs of the second Powerplay, when mid-off was usually inside the circle, Rohit and Kohli had hit six fours and a six in the arc between deep extra-cover and long-off. India scored 56 in that five-over period, and Kohli and Rohit looked unstoppable.
But the relaxation of field restrictions gave New Zealand a bit more control. Rohit and Hardik Pandya fell to Mitchell Santner's changes of pace and trajectory while going for big hits, while a Tim Southee slower ball undid Kohli's attempt at clearing long-off. Between the end of the 40th over and Kohli's dismissal, India had only managed three boundaries. MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav manufactured three fours and a six thereafter, and India picked up 35 off the last 20 legal balls of their innings. Those runs would prove quite handy.
Rohit and Kohli came together in the seventh over of India's innings, when Shikhar Dhawan spooned Southee to mid-off, and immediately gave the sense of settling themselves for a long stay.
Kohli looked in rare form right from the time he walked in, flicking an off-stump ball to the right of midwicket to get off the mark and then punching Southee through the gap between cover point and extra-cover, but despite this he slipped into a sidekick role, happy to get off strike and watch Rohit do his thing. He did, however, become the fastest player to 9000 runs in one-day cricket.
Rohit's innings contained all the classic Rohit ingredients - the back-foot punches, the front-foot pulls in front of square, the drives down the ground - and also a determination to rectify the mistakes of his previous two innings. He had been out playing across the line in the first two ODIs, and didn't repeat that mistake here. In the eighth over, for instance, he got a full, middle-and-leg ball from Trent Boult, similar to the one he flicked in the air in Pune, only this time he showed the full face of the bat and picked up four to the left of mid-on.
Once he got his eye in, boundaries flowed to all parts. The fifty came up off 52 balls, the hundred off 106, and with Kohli following in his slipstream a total in the 350-370 range looked possible. India didn't get that far, but they eventually got far enough. Just about.