Ravindra Jadeja kept India’s one-day series against New Zealand alive as the tourists took 17 off the final over to tie an epic third match in the series at Eden Park yesterday.
New Zealand were on the verge of sealing an historic series win over the world champions, after making 314 and then removing the cream of India’s batting talent to have the tourists at 184-6 with less than 15 overs remaining.
However, Jadeja, who finished unbeaten on 66, and Ravi Ashwin, who posted a career-best 65, ensured India stayed in the game.
Between them they put on 85 runs in 55 balls for the seventh wicket before Ashwin fell to a spectacular catch by New Zealand century-maker Martin Guptill, leaving Jadeja to get India to the end as the tail-end batsmen fell around him.
New Zealand, who won the first two matches, need to win one more to claim the series victory, while India need to win the remaining two matches to draw.
All-rounder Corey Anderson, who finished with five for 63, had the role of bowling the final over to India and could not contain Jadeja, who belted two fours, a six and a single to go with two wides.
Three overs from the end, New Zealand believed they had Jadeja caught behind, but umpire Rod Tucker turned down the appeal, even though replays indicated the ball touched the bat.
New Zealand, who lost the toss for the third time, were sent in to bat on a fast-paced wicket and were all out for 314 on the last ball of an innings built around Guptill’s 111.
Guptill and Kane Williamson featured in a 153-run stand for the second wicket and when it was broken in the 33rd over with the removal of Williamson (65), New Zealand felt confident enough to promote big-hitting Anderson up the order.
The move did not pay off. Anderson went for eight and was quickly followed by Guptill, then Brendon McCullum (nought) and New Zealand were 230 for five.
Ross Taylor (17) and Luke Ronchi (38) staged a minor recovery, but when Taylor was run out it sparked a collapse in which New Zealand lost four wickets for 18 runs.
At 288-9 it was left to some lusty hitting by Tim Southee to get New Zealand over the 300 mark before he was run out on the last ball.
India had a scare at the start of their reply when Rohit Sharma was dropped by Jesse Ryder at second slip before they comfortably progressed to 64 without loss after nine overs.
However, the momentum switched with a bowling change which saw Anderson remove Shikhar Dhawan (28) and Sharma (39), while Hamish Bennett, back in the New Zealand side after a three-year absence, removed Virat Kohli for six.
Suresh Raina (31) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) carried India through to 184 at the start of the batting power play.
With the removal of Dhoni, there was reason for New Zealand to sense they were in command, but Jadeja with his 66 off 45 deliveries, including four sixes and five fours, kept India in the game.