India seemed shorn of their aura in the absence of talismanic skipper Virat Kohli as New Zealand pulled off a stunning eight-wicket win in the fourth cricket one-dayer to halt the visiting side’s domination in Hamilton on Thursday. With run-machine Kohli rested after the side claimed an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, India’s much-vaunted batting was dismissed for its seventh-lowest ODI total — 92 in 30.5 overs — after Trent Boult (5/21) dished out a deadly opening spell. (India vs New Zealand 4th ODI Highlights)
It was also the lowest total posted by any side on this venue, the previous lowest of 122 also against India’s name. With the series already out of their grasp after India won the first three games, Boult wreaked havoc with the new ball and in Colin de Grandhomme’s (3/26) company utilised the swinging conditions at the Seddon Park. (SCORECARD)
“Never expected this to happen. (But) games like this happen…We’ve got ourselves to blame for this,” said India’s stand-in captain Rohit Sharma.
In the absence of Kohli and an injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian batting unit found the going tough against the Kiwi bowling attack. India’s lowest ODI total is 54 against Sri Lanka at Sharjah in 2000. It was also India’s second-lowest total in ODIs against New Zealand, having somehow managed to surpass the 88 scored at Dambulla.
Bowling his 10 overs at a stretch, Boult troubled the Indian batsmen with both ways movement to return with impressive figures of 5 for 21, while Grandhomme gave him perfect support from the other end after New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl.
While chasing, even though New Zealand lost Martin Guptill (14) and skipper Kane Williamson (11) early to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/25), the hosts completed the formalities in 14.4 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Henry Nicholls (30 not out) and Ross Taylor (37 not out) then completed the easy task for the Kiwis without any further damage.
Earlier, the pitch didn’t seem unplayable but the Indian batsmen failed to apply themselves against the swing bowling of Boult and Grandhomme. Only four Indian batsmen — Shikhar Dhawan (13), Hardik Pandya (16), Kuldeep Yadav (15) and Yuzvendra Chahal (18 not out) — posted double-digit scores.
Dhawan’s search for big runs continued and he was the first to depart, caught plumb in front of the wicket by Boult in the sixth over. Rohit, who is leading India in the last two matches of the series in the absence of Kohli, didn’t have a happy outing on his 200th ODI and was caught by Boult off his own bowling an over later.
Grandhomme then joined the party and dismissed both Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik for ducks in a span of four balls in the 11th over. A lot was expected from debutant Shubman Gill (9) but pressure got the better of him as he got out like Rohit, caught by Boult off his own bowling.
Reeling at 33 for 5, India desperately needed the experience of Kohli or Dhoni to bail the team out but in the duo’s absence, the onus was on Pandya and Kedar Jadhav to do the repair job. But it was not to be as wickets kept tumbling with Boult ripping apart India’s line-up, dismissing both Jadhav and Pandya in quick succession.
Struggling at 55 for 8, Chahal and Kuldeep shared 25 runs for the ninth wicket to take India close to the 100-run mark before being shot out in 30.5 overs.
The last match of the series is on Sunday in Wellington.
(With PTI Inputs)