Ravindra Jadeja’s valiant effort ensured that India went down at Eden Park fighting, although the Men in Blue’s performance with the bat on the day was incredibly disappointing.
Having won the toss, Virat Kohli put New Zealand in to bat first, and the Black Caps got off to a very good start, with openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls staging a 93-run stand for the opening wicket. Yuzvendra Chahal, who was reinstated into the team at the expense of Kuldeep Yadav, got rid of Nicholls and gave India a much-needed breakthrough in the 17th over.
Tom Blundell came in and the Kiwis were able to add 49 more runs before Guptill was dismissed for a run-out, having scored 79 runs. The home side effectively lost their way post-Guptill’s dismissal, losing seven wickets for 55 runs, and India were firmly in the driving seat in a must-win encounter. Although most of the Kiwi batsman couldn’t conjure any meaningful contribution, veteran Ross Taylor made sure the Black Caps reached a respectable total.
Taylor dug in, bided his time and kept his composure even when most of his teammates on the other end were returning back to the pavilion in quick succession. He found an able partner in debutant Kyle Jameison, and the duo’s 76-run stand for the ninth wicket propelled the Kiwis to a respectable total of 273 runs at the end of 50 overs, with Taylor scoring 73 runs.
India’s chase got off to a decent start with Prithvi Shaw going on the offensive from the start, and the young right-hander scored 12 runs off Hamish Bennett’s opening over.
However, he lost his partner Mayank Agarwal cheaply in the third over and New Zealand kept picking up wickets at regular intervals, sending back Kohli, Shaw, KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav back to the pavilion by the 21st over when the Indian’s didn’t even have 100 runs on the board.
Shreyas Iyer played a composed knock of 52 runs but gave away his wicket cheaply to Bennett in what was the worst short of his otherwise mature inning.
The onus was on Jadeja to take India over the finish line and his fighting partnership of 76 runs for the eighth wicket with pacer Navdeep Saini got India back into the game.
However, Jameison struck gold when he was able to get rid of Saini in the 45th over by disturbing the pacer’s stumps. Jadeja fell on his haunches in agony at the sight of watching his partner walk back to the pavilion but still kept going.
However, Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah couldn’t provide the support that he needed and after scoring an emphatic half-century, Jadeja succumbed to James Neesham in the penultimate over of the game.
New Zealand put up an incredibly clinical and ruthless bowling display and have shown immense strength of character to bounce back from the mauling of the T20I series.
This series triumph should restore their confidence and pride big time, and they’ll be heading into the two-match Test series against Kohli’s men determined to win and end the tour on a high.