Finally there was a contest between bat and ball. And India, perhaps continuing in their merry ways, came unstuck when the ball moved around, more so in the first half of the day and less and less as the pitch started to get older. Daniel Vettori was surprised his bowlers got the first use of the pitch, something Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted India should have done.
"We misread the wicket," said Dhoni. "That is what I can say. We did make mistakes, but we negotiated the period quite well when initially it was doing quite a bit. It was an ideal start given by Gautam [Gambhir] and [Virender] Sehwag but we failed to capitalise."
Dhoni also admitted that with the ball moving around a bit, the batsmen didn't adjust well. "We played shots that didn't really come up very well in this game," he said. "Throughout the series we have played big shots which were paying off but this time we lost a few wickets and we put ourselves under pressure."
Vettori was pleased with the effort his bowlers put in on a helpful track. "In most of the games, whether we've gone well or not has depended on the bowlers," he said. "Today I thought they bowled really well. The wicket had a little more in it than the previous ones, but you still have to bowl well. You saw that a guy like Sehwag can still be explosive, like he has in previous games, even on a deck like that. Really pleased for the guys. Some guys who haven't performed in the series stepped up. Jacob Oram was outstanding and Jesse Ryder came through with the ball."
For this dead rubber India went with an unchanged XI, the best available team, and were still outplayed. But today's result, according to Dhoni, wouldn't matter much going into the Test series. "Before the start of the one-day series, we had lost two Twenty20 games and the same question was asked," he said. "It's not about what we have done. We have to start from scratch again. Nothing changes. You have to perform at your best. I don't think anything matters when it comes to the last game of a one-day series."
New Zealand are definitely not thinking the same way. "It [the win] puts us in a good space," said Vettori. "If you lose a series outright 4-0 you can get demoralised. The guys will take that confidence into the Test series. It was a lot nicer being in that dressing room than in the rest of the series."
At the same time, Vettori said it didn't take away from the challenge that the Indian team will present in the Tests. "Nice for us to finish on a winning note, but we still understand that we have been outplayed and haven't lived up to our own expectations," he said. "We can take a bit of momentum into the Test series. It's going to be a massive challenge with [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Rahul] Dravid and [VVS] Laxman coming back into the mix."