A domineering nine-wicket win in the third ODI here at the Reliance stadium, achieved thanks to Zaheer Khan's new-ball swing and a second consecutive hundred from Gautam Gambhir, gave India series honours against New Zealand with two games still to play.
Chasing 225, India got home in under 40 overs, with Gambhir and Virat Kohli putting together another century stand, unbroken this time.
Gambhir said upon electing to field that he expected help for his seamers early on. Back in the team after recovering from a groin injury, Zaheer troubled the New Zealand top order with consistent swerve through the air.
He dismissed the returning Brendon McCullum, playing as a specialist opener, in his first over, caught at second slip hanging his bat outside off. He then struck Kane Williamson on his pads with a full-length boomerang that seemed to be heading stump-wards, but umpire Shahvir Tarapore ruled it not out.
Martin Guptill was getting into his stride, with pulls for four and six against Zaheer, when he was run-out, his slide beaten by a direct hit from Gambhir at mid-on.
Zaheer, who then bowled successive maidens, was rewarded for his unyielding pressure with the wicket of Ross Taylor, caught behind off the inside edge. He then rapped Scott Styris on the pads with one that straightened from leg stump, only for Tarapore to turn him down again.
The first LBW of the day came at the other end, Williamson undone by an in-dipper from Munaf Patel.
R. Ashwin removed Styris in his third over, tempting him to flick an off-break on leg stump and whooping in delight as Yuvraj Singh, placed at leg slip for that specific stroke, wrapped his fingers around the ball.
Yusuf Pathan, coming on to a roar from his home crowd, struck twice in two overs, before James Franklin and Nathan McCullum came together for New Zealand's only real partnership.
Against the spin of Yusuf and Ravindra Jadeja, they milked the deep fielders, and brought up their 50 partnership in 61 balls, reaching the landmark in the 41st over.
They took the batting powerplay three overs later. Ashwin came back and Franklin swept him for four. A similar stroke off the next ball took the left-hander from 49 to 50.
McCullum then reverse-swept Jadeja and slashed Ashwin for boundaries before Franklin swung Jadeja over the midwicket fence.
McCullum fell shortly after New Zealand reached 200, but had ensured by then that complete humiliation was avoided.
At Jaipur, the Kiwi seamers had given Gambhir too much width. Here, they overcompensated. Thrice in the first five overs, Gambhir glanced or flicked Mills for four. In between, he stepped out and slashed Mills over point for another boundary.
He didn't spare left-armer Andy McKay either, stroking him for three fours in three balls — two square drives sandwiching a flick behind square. Two overs later, he reached 50 with a single off Daniel Vettori. He had taken only 30 balls.
Vijay got into the spirit of things against Franklin, pulling and on-driving him from outside off stump. New Zealand held back the second powerplay, and the Indians relaxed.
Vettori ran out Vijay with a direct hit from mid-on soon after the opener had lifted him out of the ground, bringing together Gambhir and Kohli.
Whistles pierced the air as Gambhir entered the 90s. He slapped Scott Styris behind point to go from 91 to 95 and took one off the next ball. The crowd booed good-naturedly as he went to 99 with three singles, before raising a hysterical noise when he brought up his ninth ODI hundred with a single off his 88th delivery. Kohli grew rampant as India neared its target, whipping Franklin for four and lifting him over the long-on boundary in successive deliveries before hoisting McKay for another six to complete the job.
Keywords: India-New Zealand ODI