The Big Picture
Another clinical performance by India saw them take a 2-0 lead in the series as New Zealand surprisingly failed to turn up for the second time in a row.
New Zealand batsman's struggles against the wrist spinners and their new-ball bowler's inability to nip out the visitors opening pair set the template for a chastening 90-run loss for the Kiwis.
The two innings could not have been more different. The Indian bowlers- both seamers and spinners got more out of what looked a benign deck with lush green outfields and short boundary.
It also meant India did not have to rely on funky field placements as Kane Williamson and New Zealand chose to which effectively denied them Rohit Sharma's wicket off the very first ball after he edged to a non-existent first slip. By the time, the conventional slip came in, the ball had stopped swinging and Sharma & Dhawan made full use to help the scoring rate at 6 runs/over.
As usual, Sharma played more balls, ate more dots but also scored more runs than his partner Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan, who showed signs of a return to form with a 75 in the first ODI looked flawless in his innings of 66, stitching a 154-run opening stand to set India an ideal launch-pad. This was the 14th 100-plus opening stand for the duo and with nothing happening off the deck, signs looked ominous for the hosts.
But, the Kiwis refused to throw in the towel. After Dhawan outside-edged an innocuous wide-ball from Boult, New Zealand staged a fightback of sorts. Lockie Ferguson tried the round of wicket line against Rohit and his angles and change of pace brought the Kiwis two wickets, Virat Kohli fell to a bouncer from Boult and the pressure was again on Dhoni and middle-order to take India to an above-par score.
Ambati Rayudu started off well, scoring 29 of his first 24 balls but failed to step-up the momentum after Kohli's dismissal. India did not get a single boundary between overs 41-45, but a late blitz from Jadhav [22 off 10 balls] and Dhoni [48 off 33 balls], that saw them score 35 runs off the last two overs gave India a par-score of 4-324.
324 looked a par-score at the half-way mark considering the very little help that the surface offered, but it turned out to be a dichotomy of sorts as India's bowlers extracted a lot more from the surface than their counterparts. The seamers set it up beautifully by claiming two crucial wickets of Guptill and Williamson in the first ten overs. Martin Guptill looked like a fish out of the water, surviving thrice- a dropped catch, a run-out chance, and an edge falling short at first slip, before finally perishing to Bhuvneshawar Kumar by offering a catch to third-man.
Kane Williamson looked enterprising in his knock of 11-ball-22 where he smoked Shami for two back-to-back sixes and a classy cut behind point. But, Shami finally accounted for the Kiwi skipper when the latter chopped it onto his stumps. With Williamson and Guptill back in the hut, the onus was on Colin Munro, Taylor and Latham to spearhead the run-chase. Munro's T20 instincts got the better of him as he was pinned in front of wicket when he went for a switch-hit off Yuzvendra Chahal.
But, the final nail in the coffin came via MS Dhoni's lightning-quick stumping of Ross Taylor, who played Jadhav for the turn, but as he so often does, Jadhav got the ball zip past Taylor's outside edge, Taylor overbalanced himself, only to see MS Dhoni remove the bails in a flash.
At 4-100, New Zealand needed a miracle of sorts. Tom Latham  and Henry Nicholls  stitched a 36-run stand, but then came on Kuldeep to delightfully run through the rest of their innings. Tom Latham went for the drive and was beaten in the air, so was Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme went for one-shot- too many, while Ish Sodhi was beaten by the sharp turn to hand Yadav his 2nd four-wicket haul of the series.
Most 4-wicket hauls for Indian spinners in ODIs:
10 - Anil Kumble [269 matches]
8 - Ravi Jadeja [147 matches]
6 - Sachin Tendulkar [463 matches]
5 - Harbhajan Singh [234 matches]
5 - Kuldeep Yadav [37 matches]
Doug Bracewell's 46-ball-57 and his 58-run stand with Lockie Ferguson- New Zealand's highest partnership-stand of the series, denied Kuldeep a 5-wicket haul but could not prevent India from registering their first ODI win on Republic Day.
India [4-324, Rohit Sharma 87, Dhawan 66, Boult 2-61] beat New Zealand [234, Bracewell 57, Kuldeep Yadav 4-45] by 90 runs