Ross Taylor and Matt Henry lead the hosts to a 4-0 series win
The Indian humiliation was complete under the night sky. The floodlights shimmered but the mood in the visitors’ camp was one of despondency.
The New Zealanders rejoiced and there was a big cheer for Man-of-the-Match Ross Taylor whose classy 102 — his successive hundred in the series — set up the victory.
Despite the series in the bag, the Kiwis, defending 303, displayed intensity and commitment right through to come up with an emphatic 87-run win at the Westpac Stadium here on Friday.
The 4-0 verdict in the five-match ANZ series reflected the Kiwi dominance. The role definition in the side was clear; whether it was consolidation in the middle-overs, raising the tempo in the end or bowling with a specific plan to each batsman.
Debutant paceman Matt Henry scalped four in 10 overs of precision and promise. The 22-year-old Henry, in only because Tim Southee was nursing a niggle, made his opportunity count on a surface with some carry.
Bowling off a fluent run-up and a smooth high-arm release, he achieved bounce and movement outside off, brought the odd ball in and switched his line capably to the southpaw.
He scalped three; the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan edged one moving away, Ajinkya Rahane played across a delivery that came through straight and Ambati Rayudu, done in by the extra bounce, was held at gully.
Earlier, the wily Kyle Mills prised out a disappointing Rohit Sharma who hung his bat outside off.
Virat Kohli fought hard with punches and drives. He was severe on James Neesham whom he hoisted over long-off for a six.
The battling Kohli and skipper M.S. Dhoni, who crossed the 8,000 run-mark in ODIs during his innings, kept India afloat for a while but then the asking rate had climbed beyond manageable proportions.
Kohli (82) was finally held at long-on off tidy off-spinner Nathan McCullum. It was all over when Dhoni (47) was prised out by Kane Williamson’s part-time off-spin.
Earlier, Taylor oozed class in the middle with a successive hundred in the series. Here was a man in control, picking his moments to strike. There is an air of confidence about him these days.
The career of this talented 29-year-old batsman has witnessed periods of turmoil. He had clashed with the authorities, taken time off the game, and introspected.
Taylor appears to have left those stormy times behind him. Now, his equanimity in the middle enhances his natural stroke-making ability.
When he created width with precise footwork and timed his square-cut off R. Ashwin to perfection, Taylor’s intent was clear; the Kiwi wanted another big one.
Varun Aaron touched 150 kmph and often bowled in the high 140s. Yet, the manner in which Taylor flashed the fast bowler through cover, and then extra-cover underlined the quickness with which he was able to gauge the length.
It was a wonderful moment for Taylor when he pulled paceman Mohammed Shami to reach his 10th ODI century.
Once again, the third-wicket association between Williamson and Taylor hurt India. This time around, the duo raised 152 runs. The two had been involved in two other major partnerships in the series — 121 in Napier and 130 in Hamilton.
Williamson, with his sound head and effective use of feet, has been the back-bone of this line-up at No. 3.
Great Kiwi barrier
The 23-year-old shows maturity beyond his age. Williamson comprehends when to attack and defend and his selection of shots has been outstanding. For India, he has been the Great Kiwi Barrier in this series.
His fifth successive half century of the series — a spirit-lifting 88 — was reflective of his balance as he struck on either side of the pitch with typical fluency.
The Indian pacemen bowled better at the beginning to contain and strike before Williamson and Taylor assumed control.
Eventually, Williamson was held well by a leaping Rahane at point off Aaron and Taylor perished in his attempt to further accelerate the scoring.
A few big hits by James Neesham carried the Kiwis past 300. The Indian bowling lacked incision. Save a few instances, the bowlers appeared to be going through the motions.
Dhoni’s astonishing luck with the toss continued — five out of five for the Indian skipper in the series. But then the spin of the coin does not count for much if the team plays without pride.