HAMILTON - New Zealand sealed their one-day international series against India with a game to spare Tuesday when a Ross Taylor century set up a convincing seven-wicket victory in the fourth ODI. It was New Zealand's third win in the five-match series, with one match tied and one remaining. At Hamilton's Seddon Park, they chased down India's 278-5 for the loss of only three wickets and with 11 balls to spare after Taylor paved the way with a masterful 112 not out.
He received sound support from Kane Williamson (60) as they rebuilt the innings and then from Brendon McCullum (49 not out), who finished the match with a colossal six. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had won the toss and opted to bowl in the first three games, won the toss again and this time decided to bat. But the change of tactics did not improve their fortunes. In addition to losing the series, India also slipped from number one in the world one-day rankings to number two, behind Australia. New Zealand improved from a lowly eighth to seventh. McCullum described Taylor's innings as the "match-winning performance" on a wicket that tends to favour the side batting first. "We knew someone was going to have to get a big 100 and we saw it from Rosco (Taylor). Obviously his partnership with Kane was the backbone of our innings."
Dhoni paid credit to the New Zealand bowlers whom he said set up the victory. "They put pressure on the batsmen to play the big shots and at times it doesn't pay (to play them). We lost wickets at the wrong time, which put pressure on the middle order," the Indian captain said. Faced with a target of 279 on a run-laden wicket, New Zealand opened at a rapid rate with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill clocking up 54 in seven overs before falling in quick succession. Ryder was bowled by Varun Aaron for 19 and Guptill was trapped leg before by M Shami for 35, leaving Williamson and Taylor to consolidate the innings as they have done so often before. Their cautious approach to India's spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja saw the run rate slump, although New Zealand still reached 100 in 22 overs compared to 25 overs for India. Williamson and Taylor put on 130 for the third wicket, taking New Zealand to 188, when the partnership was broken by a slick piece of fielding by Jadeja.
Williamson prodded a Jadeja delivery towards mid on but the bowler fielded, turned and threw down the stumps -- leaving Williamson well short of an attempted quick single. McCullum, coming in off back-to-back ducks, offered Shami a tough caught and bowled chance on one, then joined Taylor in a 92-run stand to close out the game. Taylor, who has not hit a six all series, had 15 fours in his 112 off 127 deliveries, while McCullum faced 36 balls and hit three sixes and four fours in his 49.
India's innings was built around an unbeaten 127-run stand between Dhoni (79 not out) and Jadeja (62 not out). Rohit Sharma (79) and Ambati Rayudu (37) were the only other India batsmen to reach double figures. The experiment of promoting Virat Kohli to opener failed to pay off when he was dismissed for two in the fourth over.
Ajinkya Rahane went for three and Ambati Rayudu for 37 as the first three Indian wickets to fall all resulted from uncontrolled hook shot. For New Zealand, Southee was the most economical bowler with two wickets for 36. The final ODI is in Wellington on Friday, to be followed by two Tests.
R Sharma c Ronchi b Williamson 79
V Kohli c Neesham b Southee 2
A Rahane c Southee b Mills 3
A Rayudu c Ronchi b Bennett 37
MS Dhoni not out 79
R Ashwin c Bennett b Southee 5
R Jadeja not out 62
EXTRAS: (lb4, w7) 11
TOTAL: (5 wkts; 50 overs) 278
FOW: 1-5, 2-22, 3-101, 4-142, 5-151
BOWLING: Mills 10-2-42-1, Southee 10-1-36-2, Bennett 9-0-67-1, Neesham 8-0-59-0, N McCullum 10-0-44-0, Williamson 3-0-26-1
M Guptill lbw Shami 35
J Ryder b Aaron 19
K Williamson run out 60
R Taylor not out 112
B McCullum not out 49
EXTRAS: (b1, w3, lb1) 5
TOTAL: (3 wkts: 48.1 overs) 280
FOW: 1-54, 2-58, 3-188
BOWLING: Kumar 10-0-62-0, Shami 8-0-61-1, Aaron 6.1-0-51-1, Jadeja 10-2-33-0, Ashwin 10-0-41-0, Binny 1-0-8-0, Rayudu 3-0-23-0
UMPIRES: Gary Baxter (NZL), Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV UMPIRE: Billy Bowden (NZL)
MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (AUS)