Virat Kohli, Century and successful chase have already become synonyms for India and we got it all again at Mohali as India successfully chase down a target of 286 with 7 wickets and 10 balls to spare. Virat standing tall at the end of yet another successful chase, scoring 154 not out off just 134 balls while MS Dhoni stormed back into form with a strokeful 80 runs off 91 balls. Manish Pandey partnered Kohli in the end with an unbeaten partnership of 97 runs in quick time as he finished at 28 not out. India now leads the 5 match series 2-1.
India won the toss yet again and chose to field again keeping in mind the possibility of heavy dew in the evening. The Mohali pitch has always been a true one and today it was no different. New Zealand started positively with Guptill and Latham both off to flyers. Guptill scored 27 off just 21 balls before getting dismissed but had already given a flying start to his team. Latham carried on scoring freely as he has done all this series while Kane Williamson started to look settled at the other end. With the partnership looking to grow strong, breakthrough came again from the unexpected arm of Kedar Jadhav as he trapped Williamson right in front. Jadhav has picked up wickets each time he has come onto bowl in this ODI series and today as well he finished with 3 wickets. Latham got to yet another fifty as Ross Taylor started to look dangerous at the other end. New Zealand were sitting pretty at 150 for 2 in 28 overs and looked set for a total well in excess of 300 on a flat track, just when the ever so familiar New Zealand collapse came calling by. From 153 for 3, they reached 199 for 8 in a matter of 10 overs with Mishra, Jadhav, Umesh and Bumrah all picking up vital wickets. The kiwis were yet again looking down the barrel but a counter attacking 9th wicket partnership between Jimmy Neesham and Matt Henry brought New Zealand right back into the game. New Zealand finally ended up with 285 with Neesham scoring 57 and Henry unbeaten on 39. The target was a good 15-20 runs short of the par score but never the less gave New Zealand something to bowl at.
India opened with the pair of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane but could not get off to the desired start. New Zealand bowlers bowled to a plan and looked focused as they removed both the openers early to reduce the hosts to 41 for 2 in the 9th over. At one end, Virat had already got a reprieve while he was on just 6 runs when Ross Taylor spilled a simple chance in the slips as he was joined by MS Dhoni, in a surprise move, coming up at No. 4. This was the moment where any team could have seized the opportunity. One more wicket and New Zealand could have been well ahead in the game but it wasn’t to be. Two of the best finishers were batting together and what followed was masterclass. The powerful strokes, the lightning running between the wickets, the mighty boundaries and the cheeky singles, everything was on display tonight. MS Dhoni hit 3 sixes in the process, also to become India’s leading six hitter with 196 sixes, bettering the record of 195 sixes of Sachin Tendulkar. Around the midway mark, Both Kohli and Dhoni were batting on similar scores off similar balls as viewers kept guessing as to who will get to a hundred first. In the process, Kohli was racing towards yet another century when Dhoni got out against the run of play for a well made 80. Kohli was joined by Manish Pandey as Kohli looked unfazed with all other happenings on the ground. He raced away to his 26th ODI century shortly with a flurry of boundaries and shifted the gears to full speed thereon. Pandey looked to rotate the strike with an occasional boundary to relieve some pressure off Kohli, but as the history has shown, Virat gets better in pressure. Virat upped the game and brought the whole of Mohali to its feet with scintillating display of hitting as he reached his 150 with a boundary and the India reached victory with the next four coming off Manish Pandey’s willow.
The previous game gave hope to New Zealand that India could be beaten and they played really well for most part of their innings barring the period between the 29th and the 38th over where they lost 6 wickets. Their bowlers showed spirit in the beginning but were completely outplayed by Virat and MS Dhoni. New Zealand would be concerned about the lack of variety they faced in their bowling today and should sort that out soon while India have all the reasons to be happy. Virat doing his usual and MS back in form is great news for the team.
Ind Vs NZ, 3rd ODI, Mohali
New Zealand 285 (49.4 ov)
India 289/3 (48.2 ov)