TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND (AFP) – A century to KL Rahul boosted India’s hopes of avoiding a series whitewash against New Zealand yesterday as the tourists scored 296 for seven in the third and final one-day international (ODI) at Mount Maunganui.
Rahul, supported by Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, looked set to steer India to a huge total before Black Caps paceman Hamish Bennett slowed the scoring with a late flurry of wickets.
New Zealand are already 2-0 up in the series and India skipper Virat Kohli gave his batters licence to thrill before the match, saying he was looking for a big total.
“We don’t really have anything to lose so we can just go out there and play some positive cricket,” Kohli said, after losing the toss and being asked to bat.
His side looked poised to deliver before Bennett took three wickets for 12 runs late in the innings, finishing the match with figures of four for 64.
The 297 target looks solid but India’s bowlers will need to extract some threat from a flat-looking wicket against a New Zealand line-up bolstered by captain Kane Williamson’s return.
Towering paceman Kyle Jamieson struck in his opening over to clean bowl Mayank Agarwal for one, building on his strong international debut in the second ODI.
Kohli made an aggressive start, smashing Tim Southee for six, but departed for just nine after sending a Bennett delivery to Jamieson on the boundary.
Rookie opener Prithvi Shaw’s promising innings ended on 40 when he was run out chasing an extra run, leaving India on 62 for three.
Iyer, with 62 from 63 balls, and KL Rahul rebuilt with a 100-run partnership that left the tourists well placed to launch a late assault.
Rahul had a life on 64 when Mitchell Santner’s throw at the stumps went wide and the batsman made the most of it to score his fourth ODI century, bringing up the landmark off 104 balls, including nine fours and one six.
Bennett dismissed Rahul for 112 and then snared Manish Pandey for 42 off his next ball.
His fourth wicket came when Shardul Thakur sent a full toss straight to de Grandhomme, and the bowler was unlucky not to get another when Navdeep Saini almost edged the next delivery onto his stumps.