Ranchi, (IANS) Indian Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost his first match in his home-town as the hosts went down fighting by 19 runs, enabling New Zealand level the five-match One-Day International (ODI) cricket series at the JSCA International Stadium here on Wednesday.
Chasing 261, tailenders Dhawal Kulkarni (25 not out) and Umesh Yadav (7) put up a record 10th wicket stand of 34 against the Kiwis but the equation was too steep for them. In the end, India were all out for 241 in 48.4 overs.
Pacer Tim Southee (3/40) and all-rounder James Neesham (2/38) wrecked India’s chase as the hosts had only opener Ajinkya Rahane (57) scoring a fifty, failing to once again convert his good start.
Virat Kohli (45) and Axar Patel (38) tried to hold fort but wickets tumbled around them with Dhoni (11) also falling cheaply to Neesham.
The downslide started with Rohit Sharma (11) falling early to a peach of an outswinging delivery from Southee.
Rahane was looking good tonking the first six of the match off Boult in the 6th over. The right-hander carted for fours off Southee and Boult.
With the fielding restrictions lifted after the first Powerplay, the Kiwis introduced spin, bringing Santner in the 10th over. Three over later, Ish Sodhi joined Santner but the skills of the Indian batsmen scored almost everytime over their rivals’ bowling.
One late cut off Sodhi in the 14th over by Kohli summed it up as the hosts were having a ball with spin from both ends.
Just when the hosts were looking to cruise to an easy win with both Kohli and Rahane stitching a 79-run second wicket partnership at 5.04 per over, Sodhi sent the former packing.
Lunging at a poor delivery way outside off-stump, Kohli (45) looked to cut in vain giving an outside edge to Watling who took a fine catch.
Meanwhile, Rahane brought up his 16th fifty in the 25th over off Devcich as the tourists perhaps missed a trick by playing the left-armer who seemed to ease the pressure off Dhoni and Rahane at a time India could have been put in a spot of bother after the dismissal of Kohli.
But Neesham, in his second spell, did the damage getting Rahane LBW after the latter shuffled his stance and played across.
Neesham was on the money again, this time castling the Indian captain with an incoming delivery which Dhoni missed all ends up with no foot movement whatsoever.
Manish Pandey and Axar Patel looked to put up a semblence of a fight before Pandey fell to a superb catch by Tom Latham at mid on with Southee picking up Kedar Jadhav plumb in front with his next delivery.
Amit Mishra and Axar Patel showed character for a 38-run eighth wicket stand until Mihra ran for a non-existent second run allowing Santer time to get him run out.
Patel followed suit in the same over, Boult yorking him from around the wicket.
Kulkarni and Yadav tried their best but in the end the target proved too big for the lower orer batsmen.
Earlier, Martin Guptill top-scored for the tourists with 72 off 84 balls to set India a target of 261.
Williamson’s charges rued not putting more runs on the board after getting off to a flying start where they hit 12 boundaries in the first ten overs but only managed 13 in the next 40.
Mishra returned with best figures of 2/42 getting the important scalps of Williamson and Neesham.
The Black Caps got off to a flying start and they were also helped by a missed catch. Amit Mishra grassed a difficult catch of Guptill (29) at mid-on in the seventh over, diving to his left but parrying his one-handed attempt towards long-on.
Patel outfoxed Latham (39) just when he and Guptill were looking good, with a slower one which the in-form opener swept to Ajinkya Rahane at short fine leg.
Moments later, Guptill brought up his fifty in 56 balls. Guptill continued to score freely, racing to 72 in no time as the tourists reached 138/1 by the 26th over.
Just when things were looking good for Guptill, Pandya snapped his stay with a short of length delivery that the right-hander edged to Dhoni behind the stumps.
Williamson met the same fate albeit a little earlier in his innings. Looking set at 41 off 58 deliveries laced with four fours, the right-hander fell prey to Mishra’s guile trying to cut the leggie and in the process nicking to Dhoni.
Neesham soon followed suit, this time Kohli taking a superb catch diving low to his left at cover off Mishra.
Watling and Taylor tried to up the ante but a swing of the bat from the wicket-keeper, who replaced Luke Ronchi, went only as far as Rohit Sharma who took a simple catch at fine leg.
Dhoni again accounted for Taylor soon after with the former collecting the ball in front of the stumps and then deflecting it back onto the stumps, all in one motion to catch the latter unaware.
Umesh picked up Anton Devcich as the Kiwis set India a target of 261 to wrap up the series.