With the series already seized at the end of the second ODI, the finale had loads to look forward to as the Men in Blue were eyeing to enforce a whitewash while the crown of the world was also up for grabs. In a match that had very little consequences in the fabric of the fray and yet all the consequences to play for, New Zealand’s stopgap skipper, Tom Latham won the toss and forced India to bat.
With the surface being downright flat, it was a foregone conclusion that runs are going to flow through every possible leak that would be up for grabs. However, the Indian batters were not willing to simply impose leaks upon the hapless Kiwi bowling but they came forth with the heavy artillery early in the innings as an on song Shubman Gill and a keen Rohit Sharma was all set to showcase their hard-hitting flair, propelling India to a blinder of a start.
Captain Hitman brought up his 30th international century to snuff out a 509-day drought while Shubman Gill continued with his rampaging spree, leaving Jacob Duffy and Lockie Ferguson twisted in an almost undoable knot. The duo piled up a staggering 212 runs for the opening stand, with Rohit being the first domino to topple, leaving the Men in Blue vulnerable to a resurgent Kiwi bowling.
Shubman Gill was quick to follow suit as India suddenly started losing a flurry of wickets, allowing the visitors to claw their way back into the game. Despite a dry spell in the middle overs that somehow confined India to a boundary-less patch, a late onslaught from Hardik Pandya laced with an instrumental cameo from Shardul Thakur catapulted the Men in Blue to a staggering 385 at the end of their 50 overs quota.
Hoping to pay back India in the same coin, the Kiwi attempt to start the chase off with some fiery strokes was jolted to a rude awakening with Finn Allen returning to the pavilion for a duck. However, Henry Nicholls managed to combine well with New Zealand’s solitary beacon of salvation for the night, Devon Conway. Stitching together a 106 runs stand for the second wicket, Nicholls wanted to go big against Kuldeep and it was the latter who came out on top, nipping through the defences of the southpaw as the ball clattered onto his pads.
Another partnership between Daryl Mitchell and Conway helped New Zealand stay afloat but that wasn’t enough for the visitors to try and snipe the Indians from range, as Shardul Thakur brough the heat, striking two in two, removing the dangerous Mitchell and the Kiwi skipper for a golden duck.
Michael Bracewell did a decent job but it was just a matter of time before India would actually put the leaping asking rate to good use, scalping the big fishes of Phillips, Conway and Bracewell in more or less quick succession, leaving New Zealand staring down at the barrel.
Santner did try and put in a staunch shift in the tail-end of the innings but that was far from what could have helped the visitors to come close within India’s mammoth total. It was a clinical show of domination from the Indian bowlers, spearheaded by Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav as the duo plundered 6 wickets between them while a returning Yuzvendra Chahal bagged a brace to help India clinch the ace of the ODI rankings and walk away with a stunning 90-runs victory.