Virat Kohli produced another breathtaking effort as his superbly crafted unbeaten 154 enabled India to cruise to an easy seven-wicket victory in the third ODI against New Zealand in Mohali tonight.
India thus lead the five-match series 2-1.
Kohli’s 134-ball knock was ably complemented by an under-pressure skipper Dhoni (80 off 91) as the duo forged a 151-run partnership off 163 balls to effectively seal the match with 10 balls to spare after the home team made a shaky start in their pursuit of 286.
Dhoni for one promoted himself up the order after much deliberation and it did yield results.
The visitors had earlier suffered a batting collapse before Jimmy Neesham (57) and Matt Henry (39*) came up with a 84-run stand for the ninth wicket to take their side to a competitive total.
Eventually, it was India’s No 1 batsman Kohli, who got the job done with ridiculous ease. He is amassing hundreds at a staggering rate and today was his 26th one in ODIs. He has now scored three hundreds in his last seven ODI innings and has a batting average of 52 plus in 174 matches. He hit 16 boundaries and a six.
India’s batting mainstay also had luck on side as he was dropped on 6 by Ross Taylor, who could not hold to a regulation catch standing at a wide slip on the bowling off Henry.
Dhoni’s effort in the circumstances was also a valuable one. With India in a spot of bother, he promoted himself at number four and was involved in a match winning stand with Kohli.
On the way to his first half century in 11 innings, Dhoni completed 9000 runs to become the fifth Indian to do so after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin. He also surpassed Tendulkar to be India s leading six-hitter in ODIs.
At a packed PCA stadium, the dew also played its part in the evening keeping the grounds men busy during drinks break.
India felt the pressure at the start of the chase. Openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, who were not among the runs in the earlier games, fell cheaply once again.
Rahane spooned a simple catch to cover off Matt Henry before Rohit failed to pick a slow off-cutter from pacer Tim Southee, leaving India at 41 for two in the ninth over.
While Kohli looked in sublime touch at the other end, Dhoni promoted himself at number four ahead of Manish Pandey in his bid to lead from the front in a tricky situation.
Both Dhoni and Kohli looked in good touch. The pressure of performing was more on Dhoni and captain cool went about his business in signature style.
(With PTI inputs)