Washington Sundar slammed his maiden ODI fifty to carry India to a modest 219 against New Zealand in the third and final match of the series at Hagley Oval on Wednesday.
On a pitch, where there was a lot of grass and lateral movement, and with overcast conditions, India’s innings never really got going, till Sundar stood up and applied himself to hit five fours and a six in a 64-ball knock to take the visitors past 200-mark.
Apart from him, Shreyas Iyer also played a handy knock of 49 as rest of the batters struggled and perished to a disciplined bowling show by New Zealand. For the hosts, Daryl Mitchell being used as the fifth bowler was a master-stroke, picking 3/25 in his seven overs.
Adam Milne, coming in for spinner Michael Bracewell, got three wickets for 57 runs in his ten overs. Tim Southee picked two scalps while Matt Henry, despite being wicketless, gave away just 29 runs in his very effective ten overs.
After a delay of 15 minutes, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson made it a hat-trick of winning tosses and put India into batting first for the third time in the series. On a pitch with green tinge, Southee and Henry found enough movement to keep Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill in check.
Though Dhawan hit a six and three boundaries by dancing down the pitch to negotiate the movement on offer, Gill struggled till he was off the mark on the 12th ball he faced. Though Gill hit Milne for back-to-back well-timed boundaries, the pacer had the last laugh as the right-hander chipped straight to square leg.
Iyer dazzled with his early drives and had a huge slice of luck when Milne dropped his catch at third man. He then brought out well-controlled pulls and cashed on the width with some fierce cuts through the off-side.
But he was losing support from the other end as Dhawan’s ploy to use his feet and unsettle the bowlers resulted in him chopping on to his stumps off Henry. Rishabh Pant whacked two boundaries on the leg-side, but in a bid to break the pressure created by dot balls, he miscued a pull to deep square leg off Mitchell.
Suryakumar Yadav guided a length ball from Milne to slip and when Iyer miscued his loft to sweeper cover off Lockie Ferguson, India were in a real spot of bother. It increased when Deepak Hooda tried to take on a short ball and ball took shoulder edge of bat behind, as New Zealand overturned the decision on review.
But Sundar went about his innings with flick and gentle push past mid-on to collect a brace of boundaries. As Southee erred in his line, he was quick to pounce on it to place the pull through mid-wicket.
He was also aided by Deepak Chahar hitting Mitchell for two huge sixes, though he holed out off the same bowler. Sundar was serene in his front-foot drive off Ferguson and then smartly moved across to sweep past short fine leg off Mitchell Santner.
Though Yuzvendra Chahal ran out of patience and holed out, Arshdeep Singh slogged Southee over deep mid-wicket for six, before being dismissed by Mitchell. Sundar got his fifty by hitting Southee over deep mid-wicket for six, before nicking behind off the pacer, ending his fantastic stay at the crease.