New-look India sink to series defeat

India

India's decision to field a new-look XI backfired, as centurion Ross Taylor capped New Zealand's convincing seven-wicket win – and unassailable three-nil series lead – in Tuesday's fourth ODI at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

India's decision to field a new-look XI backfired, as centurion Ross Taylor capped New Zealand's convincing seven-wicket win in Tuesday's fourth ODI at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

The result afforded the Black Caps a first home series win, against opposition other than minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, in almost five years. The Indians' losing streak, meanwhile, stretched to a disheartening nine matches across all formats of the international game.

India dropped batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, pushed the in-form Virat Kohli to the top of the order, promoted the pinch-hitting Ravichandran Ashwin, recalled Ambati Rayudu, debuted all-rounder Stuart Binny and expected plenty from fast bowler Varun Aaron. Nothing succeeded.

Kohli perished for a mere two runs, Ashwin swatted a solitary boundary before perishing shortly thereafter, Rayudu's 37 came at pedestrian strike-rate of 63.79, Binny did not bat and bowled just one over and Aaron's economy-rate soared beyond 8.20.

This slew of collective inadequacy left the regular members of the XI – opener Rohit Sharma, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni – to right the wrongs. Each amassed a commanding half-century, ensuring a respectable final total of 278 for five.

The tally, in fact, would have read considerably poorer – were it not for Dhoni and Jadeja's unbroken 127-run alliance inside 17 overs for the sixth wicket. The pair clubbed 14 fours and a quintet of hefty sixes, capitalising on an opposition attack minus the rested Corey Anderson and Mitchell McClenaghan.

The hosts' reply was built on the back of openers Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill's blitz, which gathered 54 runs in two deliveries more than seven overs. Aaron and the talented Mohammed Shami struck in quick succession, though, leaving an aggressive Kane Williamson and authoritative Taylor to put the pursuit back on track.

Williamson and Taylor's alliance was laced with superb timing and choice shot selection, bringing 130 runs in 26.1 overs. Dominant against the seamers and respectful of spinners Ashwin and Jadeja, the duo's approach was decidedly calculated.

The right-handed Williamson eventually contrived to run himself out for a 60 that should have gone a greater distance. Instead, Taylor took a welcome cue for a fine ton – the ninth of an outstanding ODI career.

Captain Brendon McCullum, too, insisted the match would not go down to the proverbial wire. McCullum was ruthless, clouting an unbeaten 49 from 36 balls – and sealed the outcome with a fat six over long-off off the first delivery of the 49th over.

India's fielding display was entirely abject, characterised by overthrows, a handful of errors on the boundary and the inner ring – and Rayudu and Jadeja's lack of communication, which saw both close in on a catch but neither able to complete it.

Taylor was named Man of the Match – thanks to a sterling 112 not out, including 15 boundaries. The fifth and final ODI will get under way at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday. A two-Test series will follow.

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