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Mishra bowls India to series victory

Wisden India Wisden India 29/10/2016
© Wisden

Amit Mishra, the legspinner, picked up his second five-wicket haul in One-Day International cricket to bowl India to a massive 190-run win over New Zealand in the fifth and final ODI in Visakhapatnam on Saturday (October 29). After putting up 269 for 6 on opting to bat first and then bowling New Zealand out for 79, India completed a 3-2 series win with plenty to spare. Mishra finished with stunning figures of 5 for 18 from six overs.

Half-centuries from Rohit Sharma (70) and Virat Kohli (65), a measured 41 from Dhoni himself and cameos from Kedar Jadhav and Axar Patel had given India a more than competitive score after Dhoni won his fourth toss of the series.

New Zealand lost Martin Guptill and Tom Latham, the openers, to Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah respectively, but Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were in the middle of a stabilising stand when Dhoni turned to spin. The move paid off almost immediately when Williamson holed out to long-off off Axar for 27 after a stand of 35.

Williamson’s departure triggered an astonishing collapse as Mishra was all over the New Zealanders like a bad rash. Taylor fell in the next over, caught behind off a delivery that bounced a little more, and BJ Watling lasted just two deliveries as he was completely flummoxed by a googly and was bowled through the gate.

It was a sorry procession from there onwards as New Zealand lost their last eight wickets for just 16 runs to be shot out for 79, an embarrassing performance given how competitive they had been in the series till this game.

In the afternoon, Dhoni elected to bat on a strip that looked dry and would help his fortified spin unit under lights.

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Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane laid a solid base, adding 40 for the opening wicket. Rohit, who came into the game with scores of 14, 15, 13 and 11, looked far calmer at the crease than he had all series long. Rahane looked typically composed in approach too, but his inability to cash in on yet another solid start threw a spanner in what could’ve been his second quality innings in as many games. Rahane, who scored a crucial 57 in the fourth ODI in Ranchi, looked for the flick when James Neesham drifted the ball into his legs. It was the right shot for the line and length, but the ball didn’t come off the pitch as well as Rahane expected it to and he ended up chipping to Tom Latham at short midwicket.

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson, right, reacts after India's Axar Patel, left, dismissed him during their fifth and last one day international cricket match in Visakhapatnam, India, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. © Associated Press New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson, right, reacts after India's Axar Patel, left, dismissed him during their fifth and last one day international cricket match in Visakhapatnam, India, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd got louder at the fall of the wicket because out came No. 3 — Kohli.

In the four preceding games, India had won twice when he had got past the 50-run mark, and as much as he or his teammates might deny it, there is always extra responsibility on Kohli’s shoulders. There have been instances where pressure has gotten the better of him, but that wasn’t the case on this occasion.

He started in typical Kohli fashion by rotating the strike when the balls were in the right areas to ensure the bowlers didn’t bog him down early on. Rohit was set by the time Kohli walked in, so all he had to do was tuck into the slipstream and wait for his turn to switch gears.

Rohit, not in a mood for mercy, went after New Zealand’s bowlers after a fairly docile start. The turning point in his innings came in the 17th over when he threw in a dive to complete a quick single. The dive had hurt his hip and the condition worsened, despite attention from the physio, in the next over.

Notwithstanding the niggle, Rohit brought up his 29th ODI half-century and raised hopes of another big one. Those hopes ended when he pulled Trent Boult to Neesham at fine-leg.

Once again, the crowd only got louder after the dismissal, and this time it was to herald the arrival of Dhoni. But much to their dismay, his innings was beginning to look more and more like the 11 he made from 31 balls in Ranchi. It was off-putting to say the least, but he began to look threatening after smacking Mitchell Santner to the fence off a sweep.

The runs were now coming at an even clip and the running between the wickets certainly helped.

But the sweep, on which he had worked so hard during the pre-match practice session and had gotten him his first boundary, was to signal Dhoni’s end as he tried to sweep a full ball from Santer and was adjudged leg before for 41. Santner finished with figures of 1 for 36 from 10 overs.

The 71-run partnership between Kohli and Dhoni had taken India to 190 for 3 in 37.3 overs, and now it was up to the middle order to add some beef. Although there was comfort in the sight of Kohli looking steady for his second century this series, the pressure was on a young unit to deliver after failures on previous occasions. Signs were not favourable as Manish Pandey played a nothing shot and got out to Ish Sodhi for nought.

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Sodhi had been expensive so far but his first scalp would’ve soothed his wounds. The day got better for Sodhi as he deceived Kohli in flight and had him toe-end a floater on off-stump straight to Guptill at long-off. Axar and Jadhav then came up with a couple of fine cameos to ensure India would reach a healthy total.

India, who brought back Bumrah for Dhawal Kulkarni and handed Jayant Yadav his debut cap in place of Hardik Pandya, had the perfect game with which to end the ODI series.

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