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[Image: TH28HARDIK]
Back in the swing: Hardik Pandya’s presence will lend solidity and balance to the Indian side.  

Focus on Hardik Pandya’s inclusion as he comes back from provisional suspension
India captain Virat Kohli will be aiming to seal the five-match series when his team squares off against a confused New Zealand in the third ODI here Monday.
Kohli has been given a break as part of BCCI’s workload management programme and he would like to finish his assignment down under on a high after the maiden Test and ODI victories in Australia.
An unassailable 3-0 lead would be a fitting revenge to India’s abject 0-4 humiliation during the 2014 limited-over series.
One of the primary focus of Monday’s encounter could be inclusion of Hardik Pandya who is coming back from provisional suspension for his loose talk on a TV chat show.
Hardik’s presence would lend solidity and balance to the side and he could replace Vijay shankar.
New Zealand, on the other hand, has looked clueless against India’s wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal who accounted for 12 of the 20 wickets in the last two ODIs.
Seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami also have done their job well, getting crucial breakthroughs.
India’s batting too has complemented the bowlers, looking rock solid in both the games with Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form lending the team the much-needed fillip at the top.
Vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who had flopped in the first ODI, too entertained the spectators here with a strokeful 87 en route to his 14th century stand with opening partner Dhawan.
In good nick
Skipper Kohli also looked in good nick in both the matches, while Ambati Rayudu seemed to have found his mojo back with a 49-ball 47 on Saturday.
M.S. Dhoni too continued his rampaging run with an unbeaten 33-ball 48 to take India across the 300-mark, while Kedar Jadhav has also grabbed the role of a finisher with both hands.
For Black Caps, captain Kane Williamson, who had top-scored in the first ODI, looked good during his short stay in the second ODI, while all-rounder Doug Bracewell tried to take the game to the wires with a 46-ball 57 but none of the other batters could convert their starts.
“There’s two games in a row now where we’ve not had control at any stage, but we need to take small steps,” Williamson said.
The teams (from):
India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Capt.), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Henry Nicholls, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Micthell Santner and Tim Southee.
NZ vs Ind: We wanted to test ourselves after heavy Hamilton loss, says Rohit Sharma


Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma on Sunday said his side wanted to test themselves in tough conditions after the Hamilton loss and lauded his team for showing character in the fifth ODI which India won to clinch the series 4-1 against New Zealand.
India suffered a heavy defeat in the fourth ODI after they were dismissed for just 92 runs but the visiting side bounced back in the fifth match Sunday to score 252 before winning by 35 runs.
“The Hamilton loss, the way we lost was big. We need to get together as a team. I knew there was some moisture on the pitch. If the series was alive, we would have chased but we wanted to test ourselves today,” Rohit said after India beat the home side by 35 runs.
Ambati Rayudu (90) and Vijay Shankar (45) shared a 98-run partnership to resurrect the Indian innings, before Hardik Pandya (45 off 22) and Kedar Jadhav (35) powered them to a competitive total.
Rohit heaped praise on Rayudu and Shankar, saying their partnership was the turning point of the match.
“After we lost four wickets, all we needed was somebody to show application. Rayudu and Vijay Shankar did that. The partnership between them turned the game for us and the way Hardik and Kedar played in the end was magnificent. We showed a lot of character,” said Rohit who contribute just 2 runs.
He also lauded the efforts of the bowlers for producing crucial breakthroughs.
“The wicket got flat at the end, but at one point it looked an easy chase, but the bowling unit came together. Lot of people put their hands up and got us through,” he said.
“Wasn’t easy after losing four wickets at the start. Thought 250 was a very good score on that pitch. Bowlers got crucial breakthroughs at critical times. I couldn’t ask for more,” he added.
Rohit said the ODI series here helped them to have a look at how the bowling combination work out without Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the series following the Australia tour.
“When you want to win games, you need a right balance, especially when Bumrah is not here. Coming here and beating NZ at home is never easy and they are a good travelling team as well. 4-1 is a great achievement.”
Rayudu, who was adjudged the Player of the Match, said it was tough to face a good attack and his idea was to preserve wickets and take the match to the end.
“It was tough against a quality attack. I was thinking we should take the game to the 30th over without losing a wicket. Me, Vijay and Kedar batted...People who bat at 4,5,6 get a chance only when it’s tough,” he said.
“It’s important to stay prepared. The game in Hamilton was one-off. Great effort by our bowlers to defend it.”
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson admitted his team crumbled under constant pressure while chasing a tricky total.
“First of all a different surface. They got to a par total, maybe a few more. We knew it would be tricky, but we did not take it further. We just lost wickets at the wrong time. They did it very well,” Williamson said.
“Rayudu played well with 90. Then they put the pressure back on us — it’s a lesson for us. Their accuracy was great. Tommy Latham and me could have taken it further. Credit to India, they showed us a lesson and they deserve the series win.
“I suppose as batsmen we need to soak that pressure up and take those decisions. Throughout the series, they got us under more pressure. We were able to revert the pressure but not long enough and often enough.”
Mohammed Shami was adjudged the Player of the Series for taking nine wickets in the series, including the two-wicket haul in the fifth ODI.
India will now take on New Zealand in the three-match T20I series, starting here on Wednesday.
India squares T20I series against New Zealand

Rohit Sharma bats, fielded by New Zealand's Tim Seifert during the Twenty20 cricket international at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.   | Photo Credit: AP

The series is now tied 1-1 with the deciding match in Hamilton on Sunday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni watched from the 22 yards distance as his heir apparent Rishabh Pant showed spunk in a tricky situation, guiding India to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against New Zealand in the second T20 International in Auckland on Friday.
The chase was set up by skipper Rohit Sharma (50 off 29 balls) in company of Shikhar Dhawan (30, 31 balls) with a 79-run stand after Krunal Pandya got three wickets to restrict the hosts to 158/8. With whirlwind fifty, Rohit also became the top run-getter in the format, surpassing Martin Guptill.
Dhoni, the original master finisher couldn’t have been happier as he saw Pant control what could have been a tricky 159-run chase chase with an unbeaten 40 off 28 balls. The series is now tied 1-1 with the decider in Hamilton on Sunday.
With the former India captain (20 no off 17 balls) playing the role of a mentor at the other end, the 44-run stand was very significant as Indian cricket slowly moves towards a change of guard in coming days.
Pant’s one-handed six off Tim Southee or the bowler’s back drive off Scott Kuggeleijn to finish off the match were reminiscent of Dhoni’s best days. He hit four boundaries and a six in all.
The flicked six off Kuggeleijn over backward square leg was treat for the eyes but their dismissal along with Vijay Shankar’s did create a bit of unrest but Pant ensured that they didn’t press the panic button.
The innings would certainly help him make a strong case for being included in the World Cup squad.
Earlier, Krunal enhanced his already growing reputation as a steady short format bowler with three important breakthroughs as India restricted New Zealand to a below-par 158/8.
The parsimonious Krunal (3/28 in 4 overs) dismissed Colin Munro (12) and skipper Kane Williamson (20) to peg the Black Caps back early in the innings.
In between, Krunal also got the controversial wicket of Daryl Mitchell (1), who fell pray to an umpiring howler, when ‘Hotspot’ showed a clear inside edge onto the pads.
However, Colin de Grandhomme, who has played for KKR in the IPL, then counter-attacked, scoring a blistering 50 off 28 balls, adding 77 runs with Ross Taylor (42 off 36 balls) for the fifth wicket.
Once De Grandhomme was sent back to the dug-out by Hardik Pandya (1/36 in 4 overs) and Taylor was run-out, New Zealand’s chances of a big total went up in smoke.
It was a much-improved performance by the Indian bowlers with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/29 in 4 overs) removing Tim Seifert (12) in the very third over with a fuller delivery, inducing an inside edge to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps.
However, it was Krunal, who really applied the brakes after being brought inside the Powerplay overs.
The elder Pandya quickly found the ideal length, bowling his usual wicket to wicket deliveries with a flatter trajectory.
Both Munro and Williamson got skidders. While the left-handed opener Munro hit one straight to the cover, Williamson was caught plumb in-front.
However, it was the dismissal of Mitchell that once again raised the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ debate even though it was a clear case of an umpiring howler by TV umpire Shaun Haig.
Krunal angled one into Mitchell, who got an inside edge onto the pads. The on-field umpire adjudged him leg before and he promptly asked for DRS.
As the giant screen showed that a faint edge could be detected by Hotspot, to everyone’s dismay, TV umpire Shaun Haig pressed the red button to signal out.
After that, it was left to India captain Rohit Sharma to call the player back but he didn’t do so.
At 50 for 4, it was De Grandhomme, who took charge as he attacked Yuzvendra Chahal (0/37 in 4 overs), hitting him for a couple of sixes.
When he was just about threatening to take the game away, De Grandhomme smacked one straight to covers in skipper Rohit’s hands.
India bowled 35 dot balls, which could well be decisive in the final context of the match.
Young Khaleel Ahmed (2/27) polished off two wickets in the end. He and Bhuvneshwar also bowled 18 dot balls between them.

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