Ravindra Jadeja very nearly pulled off a sensational victory with some lusty hits but could not take India home in the last over as the third one-dayer against New Zealand ended in a nail-biting tie to keep the visitors afloat in the five-match series in Auckland on Saturday.
Chasing New Zealand’s stiff target of 315 largely built around opener Martin Guptill’s 111, India came back from the dead to tie the game, riding on R Ashwin’s 65 and Jadeja’s 45-ball unbeaten 66 to save themselves the blushes of another overseas ODI series defeat.
In the thrilling dying moments of the game, India needed 18 off Corey Anderson’s last over for a victory but Jadeja and last man Varun Aaron could get 17 to tie the game on a good batting track at the Eden Park.
Earlier in their innings, the Indians got off to a fairly good start but Shekhar Dhawan (28) and Rohit Sharma (39) again squandered the start to let the team down badly.
The quick dismissals of the in-form Virat Kohli (6) and Ajinkya Rahane (3) served as a huge jolt for the visitors who suddenly slumped to 79 for four from 64 for no loss.
Captain Dhoni (50) and Suresh Raina (31) stitched 67 runs for the fifth wicket to keep India in the hunt. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja than put on 85 runs for the seventh wicket to raise hopes of a stunning victory.
The visitors needed just two runs off the last ball but Jadeja could manage just a single. Though India could not win the match, they can still draw the five-match series by winning the remaining two matches in Hamilton (Jan 28) and Wellington (Jan 31).
The tie also ensured that India remained in the number one position in the ICC ODI rankings, having regained it on Friday following Australia’s defeat to England in the fourth one-dayer.
New Zealand: 314 all out in 50 overs (Martin Guptill 111, Kane Williamson 65; Varun Aaron 3/52).
Rohit Sharma c Bennett b Anderson 39
Shikhar Dhawan c Guptill b Anderson 28
Virat Kohli c Ronchi b Bennett 6
Ajinkya Rahane c Ronchi b Anderson 3
Suresh Raina c Ronchi b Southee 31
M S Dhoni c Southee b Anderson 50
R Ashwin c Guptill b N McCullum 65
Ravindra Jadeja not out 66
Bhuvneshwar Kumar c N McCullum b Bennett 4
Mohammed Shami c Williamson b Anderson 2
Varun Aaron not out 2
Extras: (B—1 LB—3 W—14) 18
Total: (For 9 wkts in 50 overs) 314
Fall of wickets: 1/64 2/72 3/74 4/79 5/146 6/184 7/269 8/275 9/286
Bowling: Tim Southee 10—0—74—1, Mitchell McClenaghan 10—0—76—0, Hamish Bennett 10—2—41—2, Corey Anderson 10—1—63—5, Kane Williamson 2—0—17—0, Nathan McCullum 8—0—39—1