India extend streak

India extend streak

Rohit Sharma (147, 138b, 18x4, 2x6) had reserved his best for the last while Virat Kohli (113, 106b, 9x4, 1x6) continued his big appetite for hundreds as India beat New Zealand, albeit after surviving some anxious moments, to clinch their sixth successive ODI series.    

Rohit's fifth century of the year and Kohli's second in three matches helped India post a commanding 337 for six. While the total wasn't as much as India promised to manage when the captain and vice-captain duo was going all guns blazing, it looked more than adequate to stop New Zealand in their track. But the tourists mounted a spirited challenge through a 109-run (115 balls) second-wicket stand between Colin Munro (75) and Kane Williamson (64), before Tom Latham and Ross Taylor (31) took the chase deep with a 79-run association for the fourth wicket.

Latham (65, 52b, 7x4) once again appeared to spoil India's party but Jasprit Bumrah (3/47), easily the best bowler on the day from either side, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept their heads calm in the dying moments and stopped New Zealand's chase at 331 for seven to come out a six-run winner. With 15 needed in the final over from Bumrah, New Zealand managed only eight as India bagged the series 2-1.    

The decibel levels at the full-to-brim Green Park stadium were high even before the first ball of the match had been bowled. And the noise was almost ear-splitting as Rohit and Kohli, who became the first pair ever to raise four 200-run partnerships in the process of their stand of 230 off 211 balls on the day, laid waste to New Zealand attack with a display of batting that was as much pleasing as it was worth its weight in gold.

Both teams went with unchanged sides and New Zealand invited India to bat first after winning the toss, a decision they would be regretting despite pulling back things in the last 10 overs when India scored only 85 and lost five wickets. There was no assistance whatsoever for the bowlers from the pitch and nor the supposed breeze wafting through the gaps between stands came to their aid. New Zealand bowlers compounded the problem by producing an ordinary show with the ball, including their best paceman Trent Boult.

They often strayed down the leg, bowled either too short or too full and you can't be so indisciplined against quality batsmen like Rohit and Kohli. They got punished and quite badly. There are few batsmen in the world that can cast spell of magic as good as Rohit. When in full flow he is a sight for the sore eyes, essaying one delectable shot after another. The pulls, punches down the ground, flicks and shots over the field were in full force as New Zealand attack bore the brunt. Having fallen early in the first two matches, Rohit looked determined to shed the short slump but never did he appear hesitant. He was aggressive right from start and systematically dismantled both Boult and Mitchell Santner, New Zealand's two best bowlers before this match.

Kohli was no less impressive as the right-hander sprinted to his 32nd century rather than bulldozing his way to it. Where Rohit raises oohs and aahs with his lazy elegance and impossible-to-believe shots, Kohli dazzles with his repertoire and striking power. One has to just marvel at the way he constructs his innings. His first fifty contained just three fours but it still came at a strike rate close to 90. He stepped on the gas after his half-century and raced to his hundred in just 96 balls as the capacity crowd got their money's worth.


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