By BV Swagath
The Third ODI at Auckland ended in a thrilling tie to keep the Series alive. Ravindra Jadeja produced a career best knock to show that he has the ability to bat well at the international level. His spinning colleague R Ashwin too flourished with the bat to help India pull off a face savior from an otherwise losing position.
On a pitch that was fast and bouncy, India failed to make inroads with the new balls with Jesse Ryder being the only early casualty. Ryder was bowled by an indipper from Bhuvneshwar to end his 12-ball 20. India after that was flattened by a huge 153-run stand for the 2nd wicket. The in-form Kane Williamson scored 65 from 74 balls with 4 fours and a six before he was yorked by Shami in the 33rd over.
Corey J Anderson was promoted at no.4 with plenty of overs left. However, the destructive left-hander was cleaned up for just 8 by a skiddy arm ball from R Ashwin. Very soon, Martin Guptill having completed a 5th ODI century, perished in the deep to a brilliant catch from Ajinkya Rahane. Guptill scored 111 from 129 balls with a dozen fours and 2 sixes. Varun Aaron making his international comeback chipped in with the key wicket of Brendon McCullum as the Kiwis slipped from 189 for 1 to 230 for 5 in a little over 6 overs!
India kept on chipping away at the wickets but they were also some big hits struck by Luke Ronchi (38 from 20 balls) and Tim Southee (27 from 23 balls) which took the hosts to 314 all out.
The run chase for the visitors was a promising one until the openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma got out trying to manufacture the big shots. Dhawan scored 28 from 25 balls while Rohit looked dangerous for his 39 from 38 balls which contained four sixes! Both the openers fell to Corey Anderson. Fast bowler Hamish Bennett pegged back India further by removing Virat Kohli cheaply to reduce the score to 74 for 3 in the 15th over. It was soon going to be 79 for 4 with Rahane caught down the legside to Anderson.
India crawled back in the game after the mini collapse thanks to a good partnership between Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. Once again the Kiwis ensured that they got timely breakthroughs to stay on top. Raina was bounced out yet again, for a modest 31 this time while Skipper MS Dhoni chipped in with 50 from 60 balls with three sixes. Dhoni was caught brilliantly by Southee off a full blooded pull.
At 184 for 6 in the 36th over, the match was over for India but the pair of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja was determined to make an impact with the bat. Ashwin started the fightback with a stunning fifty in just 35 balls and Jadeja followed him to get his eye in for the final assault. Ashwin got out to a great catch from Martin Guptill at deep mid wicket in the 45th over having scored 65 from just 46 balls with 8 fours and a six.
Jadeja was left on his own to do the impossible and he watched two more wickets go down before he was joined by last man Aaron. The match went to the last over with India needing 18. Jadeja hit the first ball for a boundary and in the fourth ball got a boundary and in the next smacked a marvelous six to give India a great chance of winning. India needed two runs from the final ball but Anderson kept his cool to hit the blockhole and Jadeja could only get a single. Jadeja remained unbeaten with a heroic 66 from 45 balls with 5 fours and 4 sixes which got him the Man of the Match award. Jadeja overshadowed Corey Anderson who took 5 for 63 and Guptill who scored a century.
Toss and Teams: India have won the toss for a third time in a row and yet again have opted to bowl first. They have atleast made one change to their XI for this 3rd ODI at Auckland with the non-performing Ishant Sharma finally getting dropped to make way for Varun Aaron. The Kiwis who are one win away from sealing this 5-match series have made one change with Hamish Bennett taking the place of Kyle Mills.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (C), Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi (WK), Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan, Hamish Bennett
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (C&WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron