A Ross Taylor-inspired New Zealand crushed India by 87 runs in the fifth and final one-day international in Wellington yesterday to extend the tourists’ miserable run against the Black Caps.
India could manage only 216 in reply to New Zealand’s 303-5, slumping to a 4-0 series loss despite a battling 82 from Virat Kohli.
Veteran batsman Taylor blazed his second successive century to set India the imposing run chase, before seamer Matt Henry skittled the world champions’ top order in a dream debut, claiming four for 38.
The result completes New Zealand’s best one-day winning streak against India in 33 years and provides a huge psychological boost ahead of a two-Test series.
Meanwhile, India’s failure to perform against modest opposition has seen them ousted from top spot in the one-day rankings by Australia and will raise questions about their form away from home ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the result was disappointing, but showed opposition teams were targeting India because of their recent success.
“It’s a phase that we’re going through, but what will be crucial is what kind of solutions we have got, how we plan to get out of it,” Dhoni said, adding that he is determined to stay positive despite the defeat.
Taylor, fresh from an unbeaten 112 in the fourth match, laid the foundations for victory with a commanding 102, receiving able support from Kane Williamson (88), who has posted a half-century in every match of the series.
Dhoni urged his pacemen to “use their brains” after losing the fourth match on Tuesday and new-ball pair Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar initially responded to the challenge.
Shami began with two maidens, while Kumar showed improved accuracy as the New Zealanders were restricted to just 10 runs in the first five overs.
The hard work paid off when Jesse Ryder (17) snicked an outside edge from Kumar to Ajinkya Rahane at gully, before Martin Guptill was out for 16 after hitting the ball straight to Shami, who took the chance after a nervous juggle.
That brought the in-form partnership of Williamson and Taylor together, and they immediately lifted the glacial run rate, scoring more boundaries in their first three overs at the crease than New Zealand managed in the previous 12.
They brought up their third century partnership of the series in 108 balls, with Williamson reaching his fifth consecutive half-century in the 30th over.
Taylor notched his own half-century a few balls later as the pressure India had painstakingly built early in the innings dissipated.
Williamson departed on 88 when he sliced a Varun Aaron delivery to Rahane at point and was replaced by Brendon McCullum, who provided a useful 23 off 18 balls, before he was caught at cover trying to drive Kohli.
Taylor brought up his 10th one-day century after 105 balls with a boundary hit through midwicket, but was out next ball attempting to belt Shami over the boundary.
Jimmy Neesham contributed an unbeaten 34 off 19 balls to take New Zealand past 300, a mark that India’s batsmen reached only once in the series.
India’s top order again threw away their wickets cheaply, with Rohit Sharma dismissed for 4 by Kyle Mills and Henry coaxing an edge from Shikhar Dhawan (9) in his second over of international cricket.
The Canterbury seamer then followed up by trapping Rahane leg before wicket for 2 and had Ambati Rayudu caught at gully for 20.