New Zealand sealed their one-day international series against India with a game to spare Tuesday when a Ross Taylor century set up an convincing seven-wicket victory in the fourth ODI.
It was New Zealand’s third win in the five-match series, with one match tied and one remaining.
At Hamilton’s Seddon Park, they chased down India’s 278-5 for the loss of only three wickets and with 11 balls to spare after Taylor paved the way with a masterful 112 not out.
He received sound support from Kane Williamson (60) as they rebuilt the innings and then from Brendon McCullum (49 not out), who finished the match with a colossal six.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had won the toss and opted to bowl in the first three games, won the toss again and this time decided to bat.
But the change of tactics did not improve their fortunes.
In addition to losing the series, India also slipped from number one in the world one-day rankings to number two, behind Australia.
New Zealand improved from a lowly eighth to seventh.
Faced with a target of 279 on a run-laden wicket, New Zealand opened at a rapid rate with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill clocking up 54 in seven overs before falling in quick succession.
Ryder was bowled by Varun Aaron for 19 and Guptill was trapped leg before by Mohammed Shami for 35, leaving Williamson and Taylor to consolidate the innings as they have done so often before.
Their cautious approach to India’s spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja saw the run rate slump, although New Zealand still reached 100 in 22 overs compared to 25 overs for India.
Williamson and Taylor put on 130 for the third wicket, taking New Zealand to 188, when the partnership was broken by a slick piece of fielding by Jadeja.
Williamson prodded a Jadeja delivery towards mid on but the bowler fielded, turned and threw down the stumps – leaving Williamson well short of an attempted quick single.
McCullum, coming in off back-to-back ducks, offered Shami a tough caught and bowled chance on one, then joined Taylor in a 92-run stand to close out the game.
Taylor, who has not hit a six all series, had 15 fours in his 112 off 127 deliveries, while McCullum faced 36 balls and hit three sixes and four fours in his 49.
India’s innings was built around an unbeaten 127-run stand between Dhoni (79 not out) and Jadeja (62 not out).
Rohit Sharma (79) and Ambati Rayudu (37) were the only other India batsmen to reach double figures.
The experiment of promoting Virat Kohli to opener failed to pay off when he was dismissed for two in the fourth over.
Ajinkya Rahane went for three and Rayudu for 37 as the first three Indian wickets to fall all resulted from uncontrolled hook shot.
For New Zealand, Southee was the most economical bowler with two wickets for 36.
The final ODI is in Wellington on Friday, to be followed by two Tests.