Riding on powerful knocks from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, India put on a competitive 278 for five in 50 overs in the fourth ODI against New Zealand at the Seddon Park here Tuesday.
Opting to bat first, Dhoni remained unbeaten on 79 off 73 balls while Ravindra Jadeja scored 62 not out from 54 deliveries. Opening batsman Rohit Sharma made 79 off 94. Trailing 0-2 in the series, India are in a must win situation to avoid another consecutive ODI series loss away from home. While Sharma stabilised the innings up the order, Dhoni and Jadeja struck a quick unbeaten 127-run stand for the sixth wicket to power India to a good total. Dhoni and Jadeja smashed the Kiwis to all parts of the Seddon Park as 100 runs came off in the last 10 overs.
India opened with Sharma and Virat Kohli, who was promoted up the order in place of Shikhar Dhawan, who made way for Ambati Rayudu. Both Kohli (2) and Ajinkya Rahane (3) were done in by the short-balls again and perished playing the pull shot. Kohli top-edged Tim Southee to Jimmy Neesham at mid-wicket while Rahane fell to Kyle Mills and found Southee in the deep.
Sharma, who was dropped by Ross Taylor on 14 at the slips off Southee, made the most of the opportunity and brought the innings back on track with Rayudu (37). The duo added 79 runs for the third-wicket stand and played some dazzling shots. Rayudu struck three fours and two sixes while Sharma had four sixes and six fours.
Just when it looked that India had recovered some ground, they suffered a mini batting collapse and from 101 for two they were down to 151 for five. Dhoni and Jadeja then took control of the proceedings and blasted their way through to fiery half-centuries. Jadeja, who starred with the bat in the tied match in Auckland, notched up his second consecutive half-century and he smashed eight fours and two sixes during his stay. Dhoni also played his second back-to-back half century and it was studded with three sixes and six fours. Dhoni finished off things in style with a massive six off the last ball that sailed over the mid-wicket boundary.
Earlier, all-rounder Stuart Binny made his ODI debut and replaced Suresh Raina while Dhawan sat out for Ambati Rayudu. New Zealand have brought back Kyle Mills and Jimmy Neesham and have rested Corey Anderson and Mitchell McClenaghan. IANS