Rayudu, Pandya and Shami help India win the ODI series 4-1 in NZ

By  Kersi  Meher-Homji

India under Virat Kohli appeared invincible in the One Day Internationals (ODIs) in New Zealand when they won the first three matches by huge margins to lead the five match series 3-0.

But India under Rohit Sharma (when Kohli rested) looked vincible in the last two ODIs. The Kiwis thrashed India by 8 wickets in the fourth ODI at Hamilton with 211 deliveries in hand. Incredibly, India’s strong batting line-up folded up for 92 in 30.5 overs on a seaming, bouncy pitch as fast bowler Trent Boult captured 5 for 21.

New Zealand reached the target in only 14.4 overs to win by 8 wickets.

It appeared that the fifth and final ODI on Sunday at Wellington was following the same pattern when the tourists were 4 wickets down for measly 18 runs. But cometh the hour and cometh the men!

Ambati Rayudu (90 runs) and Vijay Shankar (45) added 98 vital runs for the fifth wicket. Kedar Jadhav continued in the same vein scoring 45. Still the run-rate was low when Hardik Pandya showed his “six appeal”. He smashed 45 runs off only 22 deliveries which included five sixes; three off successive balls from spinner Todd Astle.

India reached 252 at a satisfactory run rate of 5.04.

Then quickies Mohammad Shami and Pandya started taking wickets. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal put finishing touches and the Kiwis were dismissed for 217 to lose the match by 35 runs and the series 1-4.

Rayudu was adjudged Man of the Match and Shami the Man of the Series.

After this match, Sachin Tendulkar told ESPN Cricinfo that India are “the favourites” to win the 2019 World Cup in England, starting this May. Tendulkar’s comments came two days after his former India team-mate Rahul Dravid also backed Virat Kohli’s men to win a third World Cup for India.

“As far as our chances are concerned, I will not hesitate in saying that we are the favourites,” Tendulkar told PTI on Sunday. “I have gone on record saying that we have a perfect balance in the team where we will be competitive in any part of the world or on any surface.”

He believes that hosts England will provide India with their toughest challenge, while New Zealand too are a team to watch despite them having just lost 1-4 to India at home.

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