Gautam Gambhir scored an unbeaten hundred in the third ODI at Vadodara as well to ease India to a series win of 3-0 with still two more matches left. Comapred to the Second ODI, India had a much easier chase winning the match by 9 wickets with New Zealand putting up only 224 on a batting pitch at the Reliance Stadium. For Gautam Gambhir it was his 10th ODI Century with two of them coming in a row in this ongoing series.
New Zealand were asked to bat first by India after losing the toss and they lost a wicket in just the second ball of the match! Brendon McCullum who returned back to the side failed to make any impact as he got caught at second slip by Vijay for a duck off Zaheer Khan in the first over. The in-form Martin Guptill didn’t last long this time as he got run out by a direct hit while trying to steal a single from Gambhir at straight mid on during the 5th over. In the 11th over, Ross Taylor looking to free his arms in an expansive drive off Zaheer Khan could only get a thin inside edge which was caught behind to leave New Zealand at 34 for 3. In the 16th over, Munaf Patel produced an off cutter which deviated off the pitch to strike the pad of Kane Williamson as the Kiwis got pegged back totally at 49 for 4.
Another in-form batsman for the Kiwis – Scott Styris didn’t last long this time and it was Ashwin who joined the party to reduce New Zealand to 77 for 5 in the 23rd over. Yuvraj Singh during the middle overs took three close-in catches in a row including that of Styris as the Kiwis now got to 106 for 7 in the 30th over. First it was Scott Styris (22) getting a thick inside edge to a flick off a sharp turner from Ashwin which was caught at leg slip, the next two wickets were taken by Yusuf Pathan – with Vettori late cutting him to slip and then Hopkins getting caught at leg slip just like Styris.
India had the Kiwis on the mat, but failed to deliver the finishing punches as the capable Nathan McCullum joined in James Franklin who was playing his first match of the series and had plenty to do to justify his place in the side. Franklin did just that stubbornly staying at the crease and soon found the gaps to crack a maiden ODI fifty. India had to wait for 18 overs to break this 8th wicket partnership which put up 94 runs. It was only in the 48th over that Nathan McCullum after a 53-ball 43 got caught at extra covers off Ashwin. Mills who came in after him struck a big six off Zaheer and was run out in the final ball of the innings. New Zealand recovered pretty well to 224 for 9 with James Franklin scoring an unbeaten 72 from 108 balls with 5 fours and a six.
The three Indian pacers all looked good especially Munaf Patel who finished with 10-0-28-1. Zaheer Khan who returned to the side in place of Sreesanth claimed figures of 8-2-31-2. Ashwin and Pathan got the ball to grip the surface to sustain the pressure in the middle overs while Ravindra Jadeja performed poorly to give away 40 runs in 7 overs.
Indian then eased to a century opening stand between the fluent Gambhir and a rusty Murali Vijay. The right handed Vijay was just beginning to regain his lost touch when he got run out needlessly while attempting a suicidal run from short thirdman to a Gambhir’s nudge. Vijay had to end his stay with a disappointing 30 from 50 balls which had 3 fours and a majestic six off Vettori.
After Vijay’s exit, the run-hungry Virat Kohli joined the equally run-hungry Gautam Gambhir with both of them determined to cash in on their rich form. As a result India had a cakewalk victory which was achieved with 63 balls to spare and both batsmen boosting their batting averages by staying unbeaten. Gambhir made 126* in 117 balls with 16 fours while Virat Kohli struck 63* from 70 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes. The three Kiwi pacers – Mills, McKay and Franklin took a pasting. McKay in particular was hit for three cosecutive fours by Gambhir which helped the southpaw towards a quick half century coming in just the 30 balls! Gambhir got a second consecutive Man of the Match.