It was a fitting finale to a glorious campaign when India scripted another epic chapter of conquering New Zealand on its backyard with the outcome reflecting a 4-1 score line.
On Sunday, India clinched the fifth and the final ODI by 35 runs in a contest that mirrored the undulations of one day cricket.
There was a poor start and then a memorable recovery thanks the immaculate knock by Ambatti Rayudu, Vijay Shankar and a brilliant 45 in 22 balls by Hardik Pandya, with five 6s three of which came in three successive deliveries.
As India goes to last leg of the T-20 matches from February 6, one cannot but marvel at the events that made this tour of Australia and New Zealand memorable.
The symphony would have been ecstatic but for the discordant note of a defeat in the fourth match at Hamilton where the batting collapsed against sustained pace and swing by Boult.
But the recovery on Sunday was heart- warming although the start was tragic with India losing four wickets for 18 runs. Rayudu and Vijay Shankar stemmed the rot adding 108 runs for the fifth wicket that was unfortunately cut short by the run out of Vijay Shankar.
At this juncture came the cameo innings of Hardik Pandya who proved his credentials as an all-rounder. In a space of 22 balls he transformed the complexion of the match. The spate of five 6s he executed confirmed the competence of this pugnacious batsman who was subjected to a harrowing time on charges of indiscipline almost ruining his career. His value to the team in the middle order was proved beyond the shadow of doubt on this Sunday. It helped India to a decent match winning total of 252.
A lot of credit is also due to Rayudu who would have capped his heroic innings if had stayed to score 10 more for a deserving century. He was caught by Munro off Henry in an innings that lasted 113 balls with eight 4s and four 6s.
The fightback by New Zealand batsmen to reach the goal was methodical and professional. The top batsmen handled the Indian pacemen Mohammad Shami and Bhuvaneshwar with a great deal of circumspection. But gradually the Indian attack gained the upper hand when the spinners came on the scene.
Leg spinner Chahal looked more penetrative than the rest. He bagged three wickets all batsmen were leg before. No Kiwi batsmen looked like staying put at one end to make a big score. Shami and Pandya got two wickets each and K Jadav and Bubaneshwar secured one each.
“When you want to win games you have got to find the right balance. Coming here and beating New Zealand at home wasn’t going tp be easy. The achievement we’ve had today is a great achievement to have,” commented Rohit after the seri
“It is a game of pressure. Throughout the series they had us under pressure than what we would have liked” was how Kane Williamson, the New Zealand summed up the series.
Man of the Match: Abatti Rayudu.
Man of the Series: Mohammed Shami