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Rayudu, Shankar take the cake 

Wellington, February 3

Ambati Rayudu struck a sparkling 90 in tough conditions to help India overcome the loss of four early wickets and beat New Zealand by 35 runs in the final ODI, sealing a 4-1 series victory.

With the series already safe, stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma sent his men in to bat on a moist surface and the tourists found themselves struggling on 18/4. Matt Henry did the early damage, uprooting Sharma’s off-stump with the batsman on two, before enticing Shikhar Dhawan (6) to play a loose shot that was taken by Trent Boult at third man.

No luck for Gill

Shubman Gill (7) was the next player sent back by Henry, poking a routine catch to Mitchell Santner at square cover, before Boult rattled MS Dhoni’s off-stump to claim a prized scalp for a single run. It was left to Rayudu to mount a salvage mission, which the right-hander duly did, staying at the crease for 113 deliveries and being abetted by Vijay Shankar (45).

Kedar Jadhav (34) kept the scoreboard ticking over and all-rounder Hardik Pandya (45) cut loose at the end with five sixes and two fours to set the Kiwis a 253-run victory target. New Zealand lost Henry Nicholls (8) early on, while his strike partner Colin Munro (24) lasted 19 balls, with Mohammed Shami accounting for both openers. Ross Taylor was the next to go after Pandya trapped him leg before on one. Replays showed the ball would have gone over the stumps, but Taylor did not review on the advice of skipper Kane Williamson at the other end. 

Sluggish Williamson

Williamson took 72 balls to get to 39, but he was caught by Dhawan at deep mid-wicket off a Jadhav delivery to leave New Zealand on 105/4. Tom Latham and James Neesham mounted a fightback before Yuzvendra Chahal struck twice in succession to remove Latham (37) and Colin de Grandhomme (11). Neesham (44) was run out by Dhoni who, spotting the batsman out of his crease following an appeal for lbw, picked up the ball and knocked off the bails. That broke New Zealand’s spirit and Pandya, Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar cleaned up the tail and secured victory.  — Reuters

IN NUMBERS

Wins by India, the most in one ODI series in New Zealand. The previous best was 3 wins in 2009

Wins by India in series in Zimbabwe (2013), Sri Lanka (2017) and South Africa (2018), a record for India for most wins in bilateral series away from home  

20 Wickets by Indian spinners in the series, joint third-best for Indian spinners in an ODI series away from home. The best is 33 in S Africa in 6 ODIs in 2018 

190 Runs by Ambati Rayudu in 5 matches, India’s best in the series. Shikhar Dhawan made 188 and Rohit Sharma 169, in 5 matches each. Virat Kohli made 148 in 3 matches

Wickets by Mohammed Shami in 4 matches. He was named the Man of the Series. Yuzvendra Chahal also picked up 9 wickets, while Kuldeep Yadav ended up with 8 wickets

4-1 India registered their biggest triumph on New Zealand soil across formats since they started touring the country in 1967

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