India vs New Zealand 5th ODI: On Sunday, Hardik Pandya gave the world a glimpse of what exactly Team India was missing when the enigmatic all-rounder was not a part of the playing XI especially in the limited-overs cricket. Coming in to bat at number 8 position, Pandya played a really good hand to provide the much-needed impetus to the men in blue towards the end of the innings during the fifth and final ODI versus New Zealand in Wellington. (India vs New Zealand 5th ODI – Live Cricket Score & Updates)

Pandya’s belligerent cameo of 45 runs off just 22 deliveries included two boundaries and five huge sixes. It not only enthralled the capacity crowd present at the Westpac stadium but also lifted India’s total to a competitive 252. During his knock, the 25-year old also equalled South African legend AB de Villiers record of smashing a hat-trick of sixes in ODI cricket.

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This was the fourth time Pandya has hit 3 sixes off 3 balls in ODIs. The only other batsman to do it 4 times in the last two decades is – de Villiers.

Pandya’s hat-trick of sixes have come up against –

v Imad Wasim, CT17
v Shadab Khan, CT17
v Adam Zampa, 2017
v Todd Astle, Today

Earlier, the Indian top-order struggled again in testing conditions before Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar bailed the visitors out of deep trouble. India’s middle-order, which has been under scrutiny, delivered under pressure after the visitors were left gasping at 18 for four.

Rayudu (90 off 113) and Vijay Shankar (45 off 64) shared a 98-run stand for the fifth wicket to lead India’s recovery before a spectacular cameo from Hardik Pandya (45 off 22) pushed India past 250. Pacer Matt Henry was the standout bowler for the hosts, taking four wickets for 35 runs while Trent Boult picked up three for 39.

After a ‘humiliating’ loss in the fourth ODI in which India were shot out for 92, captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and took the challenge of batting first on a surface aiding the fast bowlers.

India made three changes in the playing eleven. A fit-again Mahendra Singh Dhoni was back in the team in place of Dinesh Karthik while Mohammad Shami and Shankar replaced Khaleel Ahmed and Kuldeep Yadav. The chinaman bowler was rested from the game.