15.24 (IST): So, thats that then. MS Dhoni & Co. have pulled off a spectacular finish to a game that was looking to follow a similar script from the first two games. However, Dhoni, Ashwin and Jadeja had different plans altogether. The tie has helped India hold on to their No.1 ODI ranking and stay alive in the five-match series. They cannot win the series from here but two wins in the next two games will give them a chance to level the series 2-2. Whether Dhoni can pull that off, remains to be seen.
15.20 (IST): Man of the Match Ravindra Jadeja: Very happy to do something for my team. Looking to play till the end. We learnt a lot from this game and will try and win next game. I think we bowled well but the boundary was very short so it was tough.
15.19 (IST): MS Dhoni on his bowlers: Our bowlers need to improve with yorkers. First 4-5 overs with new ball not good for us. In between, spinners brought us back.
15.19 (IST): MS Dhoni on tie: I think we batted well. But we could have closed the game better. Few our batsmen could have done that, which is disappointing. Important result as it keeps us alive in the series. I think I had faith in Ashwin and Jadeja to take us till the end.
15.18 (IST): McCullum on Hamish Bennett and Martin Guptill: Hamish was great. He came back after struggles with injures and bowled with good pace. He'll play a good part. Great 100 by Guptill. Once he got 40, he really stuck it out and played. He was outstanding.
15.18 (IST): McCullum on bowling: Our guys bowled pretty well. Fielding was ok. There was brilliance as well as sloppiness. Great ODI to be part of.
15.15 (IST): Brendon McCullum at the presentation ceremony: It was a brilliant game of cricket. India showed why they are one of the powerhouses of cricket. They played outstandingly well to come this close. We didn't take a few chances. We lost too many wickets in 35-45 over period. Ideally, should have got 340. India stood up and kept us under pressure.
14.54 (IST): With this exceptional turnaround, orchestrated by MS Dhoni (50 off 60 balls), Ravichandran Ashwin (65 off 46 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (66 not out off 45 balls), India have retained their No.1 ODI ranking.
14.47 (IST): ITS A TIE! What a sensational game of cricket this has been! Ravindra Jadeja can only manage a single in the last ball of the over but he plundered 17 in all in the final over to eke out an unbelievable tie. Ravindra Jadeja finished unbeaten on 66 off 45 balls to guide India out of trouble along with Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored his maiden half-century. With this tie, India have denied New Zealand from taking an unassailable 3-0 lead.
14.44 (IST): What a final over! Jadeja has hit a four and a six and brought the equation down to 2 to win from 1 ball.
14.39 (IST): India reach 297/9 in 49 overs, need 18 runs to win from 6 balls.
14.37 (IST): Dropped! Bennett dropped at third man and Jadeja gets his fifty! IND 293/9 in 48.2 overs
14.32 (IST): Fifer for Corey Anderson! He gets the wicket of Shami who top-edges the ball and Williamson takes the catch. IND 286/9 in 48 overs, need 29 off 12 balls.
14.25 (IST): It's all happening here! Jadeja gets a six over long on and survives a vociferous appeal from McClenaghan here. India 284/8 in 47 overs, need 31 to win from three overs.
14.18 (IST): Bhuvneshwar Kumar is gone! He tries to pull the ball but can't clear Brendon McCullum at mid-on. IND 275/7 in 45.4 overs.
14.13 (IST): What a mind blowing effort in the deep from Guptill! Ashwin hits the ball towards the boundary and Guptill takes the catch just within the boundary line, toss the ball in the air, regains balance and comes back to complete the catch. IND 269/7 in 44.5 overs.
14.11 (IST): What a shot! That has to be the biggest six of the game! Ashwin comes down the track and pummels the ball high into the stands. IND 267/6 in 44.1 overs.
14.08 (IST): Bennett bowls a wide and a dot ball as Ashwin tries to play a cheeky upper cut and misses.
14.03 (IST): Jadeja picks one up off Bennett and gets four runs behind point. IND 258/6 in 43.2 overs, need 57 runs to win from 40 balls.
14.02 (IST): A few moments of madness there. First a shot from Jadeja falls just short of the fielder at long off and then a stumping chance to dismiss Ashwin goes begging.
14.01 (IST): 250 comes up for India.
13.59 (IST): Another good over for India. IND 249/6 in 42 overs, need 64 off 48 balls.
13.55 (IST): Maiden ODI fifty for Ravichandran Ashwin here! It has come off just 35 balls! IND 239/6 in 41 overs, need 76 to win from 54 balls.
13.52 (IST): Jadeja slams a six! He hits one over long off. India are not done here. IND 231/6 in 40 overs, need 84 to win from 60 balls.
13.48 (IST): Ashwin gets another four! He shuffles across and prepares to play a short ball. Its a bit on the slower side but Ashwin manages to hook it to the fine leg fence. IND 224/6 in 39.3 overs.
13.46 (IST): Tim Southee (1/51 in 8 overs) returns for his final spell.
13.44 (IST): Ravichandran Ashwin collects three runs to reach his highest score in ODIs (39). He and Jadeja are keeping India's hopes alive here. IND 218/6 in 39 overs, need 97 to win from 66 balls.
13.42 (IST): 200 comes up for India! Ashwin and Jadeja score a boundary each. IND 206/6 in 38 overs.
13.32 (IST): That's a top-order batsman's shot from Ashwin! He goes on his back foot and cuts the ball behind point to the fence. IND 190/6 in 36.2 overs.
13.29 (IST): Oh dear! Dhoni is gone now! He pulls a short ball but Southee takes a good catch in the deep. IND 184/6 in 35.4 overs.
13.27 (IST): 53rd fifty for MS Dhoni. He gets it with a six. The knock has come off 59 balls. IND 184/5 in 35.3 overs.
13.22 (IST): This is exceptional effort from the hosts in the field. The Kiwi bowlers have been right on the money and have hardly allowed the Indian batsmen to settle down. Having put efficient brakes on the run flow, they managed to push the asking rate beyond nine runs an over. Nathan McCullum's fifth over comes to an end, just three come off it. IND 177/5 in 35 overs, need 139 runs to win from 90 balls.
13.18 (IST): Ashwin flicks Bennett through mid-wicket to collect a much-needed boundary as India grapple with matching up to the required run rate. IND 174/5 in 34 overs, need 141 runs to win from 96 balls.
13.14 (IST): Hamish Bennett bowled another excellent over, conceding just three runs. IND 165/5 in 32 overs, need 150 to win from 18 overs.
13.06 (IST): Ravichandran Ashwin pulls and manages to place the ball just beyond the reach of a diving deep backwards square leg fielder. IND 159/5 in 30 overs.
13.02 (IST): The asking rate for India has climbed to 7.76 with only Dhoni as the last recognised batsman in the middle. Loss of too many wickets in a steep chase has been India's problem in the series so far.
12.58 (IST): Ravichandran Ashwin has come ahead of Ravindra Jadeja. 150 has come up. IND 152/5 in 29 overs, need 163 runs to win from 126 balls.
12.54 (IST): Tim Southee strikes! He dismisses Raina. Raina tries to pull a short ball but is too early on it. An under-edge carries to Luke Ronchi. IND 146/5 in 27.4 overs.
12.47 (IST): Brendon McCullum turns to his brother Nathan to provide him a breakthrough.
12.44 (IST): McCullum brings Tim Southee back in a bid to break this partnership and virtually end India's chances of chasing this total down. Dhoni pulls the fifth ball behind square for a boundary. IND 137/4 in 26 overs.
12.41 (IST): India reach at the halfway stage in 25 overs. Can Dhoni and Raina take India through?
12.36 (IST): MS Dhoni breaks the shackles to come down the track and slams the ball over the deep square leg fence for a six. IND 123/4 in 24 overs.
12.31 (IST): Amazing stuff from the Kiwis here. After the kind of start Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got, the hosts have done well to dry up the runs and put immense pressure on what seems like the last recognised batting pair of Dhoni and Raina. Another over from McClenaghan goes by with just three runs coming from it. India 113/4 in 22 overs.
12.28 (IST): Kane Williamson bowls a wide delivery to Raina who cuts the ball to the backward point fence. India 108/4 in 21.3 overs.
12.26 (IST): First sign of spin as Kane Williamson is introduced into the attack. IND 103/4 in 21 overs.
12.23 (IST): 100 up for India! It has come in 20.2 overs.
12.21 (IST): Mitchell McClenaghan is back into the attack and Raina attempts a wild swing and misses. Dhoni straightaway walks up to him with a few words of caution and wisdom. IND 97/4 in 20 overs.
12.19 (IST): SIX! MS Dhoni picks up a full ball on the leg side and launches it into the stands over long on. IND 97/4 in 19.2 overs.
12.16 (IST): Four! A welcome boundary for India as Suresh Raina leans onto the front foot and plays the ball through covers for four. IND 90/4 in 18.4 overs.
12.09 (IST): Anderson's dream run with the ball against India continues. He picks up his third wicket of the match as Rahane is gone, caught behind. India 97/4 in 17.4 overs.
12.05 (IST): Another spectacular over from Bennett. He has given away just one run here. Only 14 have come off his five overs. IND 78/3 in 17 overs.
12.01 (IST): Brendon McCullum persists with his wicket-taker Hamish Bennett. Bennett is now into his fifth over, having conceded 13 runs in the first four overs.
11.55 (IST): Virat Kohli is gone! He is caught behind off Bennett. Kohli didn't look happy with the decision but has to the long walk back to the pavilion. IND 74/3 in 14.5 overs.
11.52 (IST): Almost played on! The delivery from Bennett hurried onto Kohli who was looking to defend it. The ball took the bat and almost struck the stumps on one bounce, falling just inches away. IND 72/2 in 14.3 overs.
11.50 (IST): Anderson bowls five dot balls to Rahane to comple a wicket-maiden. IND 72/2 in 14 overs.
11.48 (IST): Ajinkya Rahane is the next batsman.
11.47 (IST): GONE! Rohit Sharma has been dismissed! Corey Anderson gets his second wicket as Rohit holed one out to Hamish Bennett at third man. IND 72/2 in 13.1 overs.
11.42 (IST): Splendid stuff from Hamish Bennett. He bowls his second consecutive maiden over. This too has come to Virat Kohli. IND 72/1 in 13 overs.
11.39 (IST): Virat Kohli is off the mark with a four! Corey Anderson bowls an over-pitched delivery on the leg side and Kohli flicks it away with ease through mid-wicket. IND 71/1 in 11.5 overs.
11.34 (IST): A splendid over from Hamish Bennett. A good mix of line, length and pace from him. He bowls the first maiden over of the game. IND 66/1 in 11 overs.
11.25 (IST): Virat Kohli walks out to the middle.
11.23 (IST): GONE! Shikhar Dhawan has been dismissed. An exceptional catch in the deep by Martin Guptill. Dhawan departs to a mistimed pull once again. IND 64/1 in 9.2 overs.
11.20 (IST): Dhawan follows it up with an identical shot and the result is same: boundary. IND 63/0 in 8.5 overs.
11.19 (IST): Boundaries are coming thick and fast for India here. Dhawan shuffles in his crease even before the delivery is bowled, comes down the track and drives the ball through covers for a four.
11.17 (IST): Bennett's first over ends with a four down fine leg. 10 runs came off it. India 55/0 in 8 overs.
11.15 (IST): That is the fifth six of the Indian innings already! Fourth off Rohit Sharma's bat. Fifty comes up for India, 51/0 in 7.5 overs.
11.12 (IST): First bowling change, Hamish Bennett comes into the attack.
11.12 (IST): An over later, Shikhar Dhawan gets into the act and steps down to slam a straight six. IND 45/0 in 7 overs.
11.05 (IST) Back-to-back sixes for Rohit Sharma! First he steps down the track and launches the ball over the straight fence for maximum and then pulls a short delivery behind square. IND 38/1 in 5.4 overs.
10.58 (IST): FACTOID: Martin Guptill became the third New Zealand batsman to score two hundreds in ODIs at Auckland after Nathan Astle and Martin Crowe.
10.52 (IST): Tim Southee tests Shikhar Dhawan with a short ball and the left-handed batsman pulls well behind square to pick up four runs. IND 15/0 in 2.5 overs.
10.46 (IST): SIX! Rohit Sharma scores the first six of the Indian innings. He hits a good one over the long-off fence off Mitchell McClenaghan. IND 9/0 in 1.3 overs.
10.43 (IST): The Indian openers begin on a cautious note. Collect three runs off the first over. IND 3/0 in 1 over.
10.40 (IST): India's chase of 315 begins with Rohit Sharma on strike to Tim Southee.
09.55 (IST): New Zealand post 314 all out in 50 overs. Southee's late surge helped the hosts go past 300 and post another big total after Martin Guptill's 111 and Kane Williamson's 65 set them up well. Here's how the Kiwis went about posting another big total.
09.53 (IST): Southee is making India pay for dropping his catch. He slams a straight six off Shami. NZ 313/9 in 49.3 overs.
09.49 (IST): 300 up for New Zealand! Tim Southee pulls Bhuvneshwar to the mid-wicket fence to reach the milestone.
09.43 (IST): Mitchell McClenaghan is gone! He tries to play a scoop but changes his shot in the last moment. The ball flies off the bottom of the bat to Jadeja at short third man. NZ 288/9 in 47.2 overs.
09.38 (IST): Bhuvneshwar Kumar follows Shami and tests Southee with a few short balls. Southee still can't put them away. Bhuvneshwar also tests him with a few well-disguised slower ones. Just three runs from the over.NZ 288/8 in 47 overs.
09.35 (IST): A barrage of short balls from Shami to Tim Southee! Just three runs from the over. NZ 285/8 in 46 overs.
09.25 (IST): Two quick wickets! First Nathan McCullum was run out and then a top-edge of Ronchi's bat flew straight to Rahane in the deep. NZ 280/8 in 44 overs.
09.21 (IST): Ronchi continues his onslaught and hits a straight six off Shami. NZ 277/6 in 43 overs.
09.20 (IST): OUT! Ross Taylor is run out! A direct hit from Ajinkya Rahane. NZ 270/6 in 42.4 overs.
09.16 (IST): Shami, who has conceded 51 from six overs, comes into the attack. NZ 262/5 in 42 overs.
09.14 (IST): 250 up! The hosts have now taken their total to 250 in 41.1 overs and will hope to score at a brisk rate to post a 300-plus total.
09.10 (IST): A couple of boundaries for Luke Ronchi and one for Ross Taylor helps Kiwis pick up 16 runs from the over. NZ 249/5 in 41 overs.
09.03 (IST): What an over from Aaron! Just two runs and a wicket from it. NZ 231/5 in 39 overs.
09.02 (IST): Varun Aaron gets a wicket! Brendon McCullum is gone for a duck. He hits a short delivery straight to Ashwin at covers. NZ 230/5 in 38.5 overs.
08.55 (IST): Ross Taylor is joined by skipper Brendon McCullum.
08.53 (IST): GONE! What a spectacular catch by Rahane in the deep! Guptill goes big and tries to slam one over deep mid-wicket but Rahane covered his ground, timed his jump to perfection and latched onto the ball in the air to bring an end to Guptill's knock. He fell for 111. NZ 224/4 in 37.2 overs.
08.50 (IST): Ravindra Jadeja comes back. Will be interesting to see how Guptill plays him.
08.49 (IST): 12 runs come from Shami's over. The Kiwis are on course to a big total if they're big hitting continues in the powerplay.
08.47 (IST): Shami bowls a short ball and Guptill pulls it magnificently for a six. Shami comes back well with a full delivery that Guptill defends and picks up a single. NZ 217/3 in 36.4 overs.
08.45 (IST): Fifth ODI ton for Martin Guptill! The local boy has done well here. He has waited patiently through the period when runs were hard to come by and is now accelerating at a very good place. NZ 210/3 in 36 overs.
08.40 (IST): Despite two quick wickets, Guptill has continued to play with positive intent. He is closing in on his fifth ODI ton. 11 runs from the first over of the batting powerplay NZ 209/3 in 35 overs.
08.37 (IST): Ross Taylor is the new batsman.
08.33 (IST): Corey Anderson is gone! Ashwin bowls a length delivery that held its line and went quickly after pitching. What a big wicket for India. NZ 198/3 in 33.5 overs.
08.31 (IST): Shami comes round the wicket to new man Corey Anderson. NZ 190/2 in 33 overs.
08.29 (IST): Bowled him! Williamson is gone! Mohammed Shami bowls a full ball and Williamson makes room and tries to play over the top but misses it completely. He goes for 65. NZ 189/2 in 32.5 overs.
08.26 (IST): Mohammed Shami comes back into the attack but Guptill is in no mood to calm down. He pulls a short delivery to the deep mid-wicket fence and then attempts a cheeky upper cut in the following delivery.
08.24 (IST): Exceptional batting from Williamson and Guptill here. They've survived the lull and are now seamlessly shifting gears. NZ 184/1 in 32 overs.
08.20 (IST): Suresh Raina drops an easy chance! Williamson gets a life. That should have been taken by Raina at mid-wicket. NZ 180/1 in 31 overs.
08.16 (IST): The scorecard is ticking along at a much faster rate now with an occasional boundary too. Williamson (58) and Guptill (70) are slowly but steadily shifting gears. India badly need a wicket. NZ 165/1 in 30 overs.
08.12 (IST): Williamson takes the aerial route! He hits Aaron over mid-on for a four. There is a sense of urgency among the Kiwi batsmen to up the ante. NZ 157/1 in 28.3 overs.
08.09 (IST): 13th ODI fifty for Kane Williamson! What a series he has had. His knock has come off 61 balls. NZ 151/1 in 27.1 overs.
08.08 (IST): 150 up for New Zealand. Guptill slams two boundaries off Aaron to bring up the milestone. NZ 150/1 in 27 overs.
08.04 (IST): Varun Aaron comes back for his second spell. NZ 139/1 in 26 overs.
08.02 (IST): At the half-way stage, the Kiwis have 131 runs on the board at the fall of a wicket. India have made a good comeback since the brisk start that helped NZ to 57/1 in 10 overs. However, with wickets in hand, the hosts will look to shift gears now. Interesting passage of play follows.
08.00 (IST): Fifty for Martin Guptill! His 19th in ODIs. It has come off 80 balls. NZ 131/1 in 25 overs.
07.58 (IST): Jadeja is into his eighth over.
07.57 (IST): Dhoni now brings Suresh Raina into the attack. He starts well, giving away 5 runs. NZ 123/1 in 24 overs.
07.55 (IST): Dhoni's blue-eyed boy, Jadeja holds his tight line and has only two runs to offer. NZ 119/1 in 23 overs.
07.51 (IST): First SIX of the innings! Kane Williamson comes down the track and launches the ball over extra cover. NZ 114/1 in 21.2 overs.
07.49 (IST): 100 up for New Zealand! They collect eight runs from the Jadeja over as Guptill scored a boundary over covers. NZ 107/1 in 21 overs.
07.46 (IST): Ashwin goes round the wicket to further curb the scoring chances. It works as he gives just three runs away. NZ 99/1 in 20 overs.
07.41 (IST): Meanwhile, Jadeja continues to give very little away. Just four from the over. He has given just 19 runs away in five overs. NZ 96/1 in 19 overs.
07.39 (IST): A good over for New Zealand there, a boundary and four singles from it. NZ 92/1 in 18 overs.
07.35 (IST): From 57/1 in 10 overs, NZ have crawled to 84/1 in 17 overs, taking just 27 runs in seven overs, out of which Ashwin and Jadeja have bowled six overs,conceding 19.
07.31 (IST): The spinners are doing their job for Dhoni again. He has introduced spin from both ends to keep a check on the scoring rate. NZ 78/1 in 15 overs.
07.29 (IST): Good start for Ashwin. Only two runs from it. NZ 75/1 in 14 overs.
07.27 (IST): MS Dhoni introduces more spin as Ravichandran Ashwin has the ball in his hand. NZ 73/1 in 13 overs.
07.22 (IST): Good over from Aaron here. Seven runs come off it but all six deliveries were bowled at 140-plus kmph. NZ 68/1 in 12 overs.
07.19 (IST): It's the usual wicket-to-wicket start for Jadeja. Just four runs from his over. NZ 61/1 in 11 overs.
07.16 (IST): Spin introduced! MS Dhoni doesn't wait for too long to bring spin into play. The end of the mandatory powerplay has brought Ravindra Jadeja into the attack.
07.15 (IST): Aaron concedes four runs, with a chance of run out in the last delivery. NZ have done well, despite Ryder's early departure, to put on 57/1 in 10 overs.
07.12 (IST): Varun Aaron continues and bowls in excess of 140 kmph. He has always been clear about not cutting down on pace.
07.11 (IST): Bhuvneshwar bowls an exceptional over. Just two singles from it. NZ 53/1 in 9 overs.
07.08 (IST): Bhuvneshwar continues. He is into his fifth over.
07.05 (IST): 50 comes up for the hosts! Despite the early wicket of Jesse Ryder, this is a positive start for them. NZ 50/1 in 7.5 overs.
07.02 (IST): Varun Aaron is now into the attack. He is playing in an ODI for the first time since December 2011.
06.58 (IST): For the second time in the day, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has squared up Guptill and beating the outside edge. NZ 43/1 in 6.3 overs.
06.57 (IST): Shami strays down the leg side again and gives away four leg byes but comes back well to only concede six runs. NZ 43/1 in 6 overs.
06.52 (IST): Kane Williamson is the new man in and he is welcomed with a short-delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. NZ 37/1 in 5 overs.
06.50 (IST): Ryder has once again given his wicket away due to lack of footwork there. The ball was bowled at a very good length, cramping Ryder for room at the crease and going through his bat-pad gap.
06.49 (IST): OUT! Bowled him! Jesse Ryder is clean bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 20. NZ 36/1 in 4.2 overs.
06.46 (IST): Shami is offering a lot of bouncers to the Kiwi openers. Tim Southee had spoken about how the Indian batsmen should expect a lot more of short-pitched bowling. At the moment, India seem to be taking that route. NZ 32/0 in 4 overs.
06.43 (IST): Ryder sees room outside the off-stump and smashes the ball through extra cover to the fence. He then flicks a poor delivery on the leg-side to the fine leg fence. Boundaries are coming thick and fast in this small ground in Auckland. NZ 31/0 in 3.2 overs
06.40 (IST): This wicket looks perfect for the quick bowlers. Bhuvneshwar gets the ball to beat the outside edge of Guptill's bat. Will be interesting to see how long the NZ batsmen can negotiate the Indian pacers and retain their wicket. NZ 18/0 in 2.2 overs.
06.35 (IST): A nasty delivery from Shami! There is steep bounce and a lot of pace in the wicket. A Shami bouncer strikes Guptill in the helmet. He is too slow in attempting a pull and takes his eyes away at the last minute.
06.34 (IST): Mohammed Shami begins from the other end. He straight away surprises Jesse Ryder with pace and bounce. Nudged away for a single on the leg-side.
06.31 (IST): And another one! This time down the leg side as Bhuvneshwar strays in line. Guptill guides it down to the fine leg fence. NZ 8/0 in 0.3 overs
06.30 (IST): A boundary to begin with! Martin Guptill hits Bhuvneshwar Kumar through the off-side for a four to kick-start the Kiwi innings in style. NZ 4/0 in 0.1 overs.
06.23 (IST): New Zealand team: Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan, Hamish Bennett
06.17 (IST): Indian team: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron
06.08 (IST): MS Dhoni has won his third toss in a row and has opted to field again. Varun Aaron replaces Ishant Sharma in the side.
India take on New Zealand in a do-or-die clash at Eden Park in Auckland. Catch all the live action, as it happens. (Match Scorecard)
Their campaign in tatters after two consecutive defeats, India need to regroup quickly and find the right combination as they go into a must-win match against a gutsy New Zealand in the third cricket one-dayer at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday.
Down 0-2 and having lost the world no. 1 tag, the Indian team would be desperate to make amends and stamp their authority in what will be their last chance to make a comeback into the five-match series.
If Dhoni's men fail to win, it will be their second consecutive series loss after South Africa outside the subcontinent.
The visitors lost the first ODI at Napier by 24 runs and then went down in the second one-dayer by 15 runs (D/L method) at Hamilton, which dethroned India from the number one ranking in the ODIs.
Overall, Dhoni and Co. have lost four of their last five One-dayers, all of which were played outside the sub-continent. This has undoubtedly opened up a number of points for the concerned team to ponder upon.
The fact that the Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni likes to chase, opting to bowl first in both matches so far, the size of Eden Park here should be another worry for him.
The Indians have looked to contain the batsmen in the middle of the innings before restricting the damage in the death overs, and this strategy has so far backfired. It is because not many wickets have fallen until the 35th over.
Only three wickets fell before the 35th over in Napier, with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor batting since the eighth over. It was much the similar case in Hamilton.
R Ashwin has not taken a single wicket in the last two ODIs. But the blame doesn't lie with him alone, since Dhoni uses his main bowlers in short bursts and makes them bowl during the powerplays as well as death overs. If the idea is to contain runs rather than taking wickets, it is precisely where the Indian bowling is failing.
Ashwin has conceded runs at 5.89 per over in the last five matches, while Ishant Sharma (6 wickets) has conceded at 6.12 per over in four games.
Other bowlers in Ravindra Jadeja (3 wickets) has conceded at 6 per over, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2 wickets) has played only three matches and gone for 5.73 per over. Mohammad Shami is by far the most expensive bowler, giving away runs at 6.70, but that is negated by his ability to take wickets -- 16 in five matches.
The size of this ground should excite the Indian batsmen, but these are troublesome times. The openers -- Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma -- have produced their best opening stand in the last four ODIs on foreign soil, worth a meagre 22 runs.
There has been a marked difference in the manner they have performed, both as a pair and as individuals, ever since India finished their home leg of this 2013-14 season.
While they played handsome hands with some regularity in chases of 300-plus at home, in South Africa and now here in New Zealand, they have struggled to find the optimum balance between attacking stroke-play and curbing their natural instincts to give the team a solid start. (Read full preview)
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Hamish Bennett.
India: MS Dhoni (captain & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Amit Mishra.
India have won 3 out of the 7 games played against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland.
New Zealand have played 66 ODIs at this venue, winning 29 & losing 34 (two no-results & one tied). Of the last six ODIs played by New Zealand at this venue, they have won just one and lost five - two to Australia and one each to South Africa, England and West Indies.
Highest scores by Indian batsmen here have been Virender Sehwag's 112 in 2003 and Sachin Tendulkar's 82 in 1994.
Javagal Srinath has the best figures for an Indian bowler at this venue - 4 for 23 on December 26, 2002.
Tim Southee's warning to Indian batsmen:
New Zealand's bowling spearhead Tim Southee warned India of short bowling in the third one-dayer, given that the boundaries here at the Eden Park are short and the pitch expected to be quick.
"The pitch does offer a bit of pace and bounce, but generally it is a pretty good batting surface. With the small boundaries, it is a bit daunting for the bowlers but in the last couple of games it has managed to swing around a little bit. It does generally swing in here. So, hopefully we can make the most of that," said Southee at the pre-match press conference.
"If there is a little bit of pace in the wicket, short bowling will be an option. The square boundaries are a bit bigger and it will come into play as strategy. We have plans in place for each of their batsmen. The plans had worked well in the first game," he added.
India lost that first ODI at Napier by 24 runs, with four top-order batsmen falling to the pull shot. In the second ODI at Hamilton, the visitors again fell short by 15 runs (D/L method) to go down 0-2 in the five-match series.
They have already lost the number one ODI ranking and another defeat will mean a second consecutive series loss overseas, after 0-2 in South Africa.
"It has been a good start to the series so far. We have played two pretty good games. It is important we do not get too far ahead of ourselves and take each game as it comes. We know they are a good side and have been number one in the world for a while. They will be disappointed with the first two games. They are too good a side to roll over.
"We know we have to be at our best to beat this side and hopefully we can do that," Southee said. (Read more)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar confident of India reversal
India medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar said on Friday that his team was completely focussed ahead of its do-or-die match against New Zealand and confident of reversing the 0-2 deficit in the five-match ODI series.
"There is no extra-ordinary pressure on us. We are confident of doing well. To win this match, we just need to be focussed on the game. We are not overconfident about winning, just confident enough," he said.
"If we can win tomorrow, it will lift us enough to even win three matches in a row and win the series," he added.
The visitors lost the first two ODIs -- at Napier by 24 runs and at Hamilton by 15 runs (D/L method) -- to go down 0-2 in the five-match series. New Zealand have batted well in this series so far, with their in-form line-up not giving away many wickets in the middle overs. It has allowed their lower-order batsmen, particularly Corey Anderson, to make a late surge in the death overs.
"The middle overs are not a weakness. New Zealand have just played better cricket than us. We have just been focussing on keeping the run-rate down and we haven't been able to get wickets. We need to keep working on that," said Bhuvneshwar. (Read more)
Story first published on: Saturday, 25 January 2014 03:46 IST