New Zealand rode on a superb unbeaten hundred from Ross Taylor to thrash India by seven wickets in the fourth One-Day International and take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, in Hamilton, on Tuesday.
The tourists, in the process, lost their second straight series overseas, following the 2-0 defeat to South Africa last month.
Chasing 279 for victory, the home side posted 280 for three in 48.1 overs, with Taylor unbeaten on a match-winning 112 off 127 balls.
He was involved in two vital partnerships. With Kane Williamson (60) he first put on 130 runs for the third wicket, and then he and skipper Brendon McCullum (49 not out) struck up an unbroken 92 runs stand for the fourth wicket.
Mohammed Shami (1-61) and Varun Aaron (1-51) got the wickets for India, but they were extremely expensive, even as Ravindra Jadeja (0-33) and R Ashwin (0-41) bowled economically, but without success, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-62) was ineffective.
Stuart Binny and Ambati Rayudu, after figures of 0-8 and 0-23 respectively, did not get second spells.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma rallied India with a 94-ball 79 as the top order fell cheaply, before a late fightback from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (79 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (62 not out), in an unbroken 127-run stand for the sixth wicket, gave the team a healthy total of 278 for five.
Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat, a change from the team's policy in the first three ODIs on the ongoing tour. He also made two changes, dropping both Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, and bringing in Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny, who was handed his first ODI cap.
Tim Southee (2-36) was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, while Kyle Mills (1-42) provided him good support. Kane Williamson (1-26) and Hamish Bennett (1-67) picked wicket each but the latter was very expensive.
In reply, New Zealand got off to a rollicking start, with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill toying with the Indian bowling attack. The pair scored a flurry of boundaries, especially off Shami's bowling, and together hit 10 fours and a six in their opening stand of 54 runs.
However, it was too good to last, as Ryder failed to sustain the momentum and was bowled in the eighth over by first-change Aaron. He scored 19 off 18 balls, inclusive of four boundaries.
Guptill was out four runs later in the next over, as Shami extracted revenge from the opposite end, trapping the Auckland centurion leg before. He scored 35 off 27 balls (6x4, 1x6).
Williamson and Taylor thereafter continued the assault to see the Kiwis home with much to spare.
Earlier, in the absence of Dhawan, Virat Kohli opened the innings with Rohit. India got off to a very slow start as the Black Caps kept a tight leash and runs came in a trickle.
In the fourth over, with only five runs on the board, Kohli (2), in a bid to score faster, went after a short delivery from Southee, mistimed his pull and was caught at mid-wicket by Neesham.
Ajinkya Rahane (3), moved up the order at number three, also became a victim of stepping up the scoring when he pulled straight to Southee at fine-leg off Mills.
Rohit, who took his time in settling in, was lucky to survive a couple of dropped chances. He faced most of the deliveries, while Rahane only faced four out of 19 balls leading up to the ninth over, even as the strike was not rotated.
It was the second time in four matches that Rahane was out too a short ball.
Things were looking bad for India at 22 for 2 when Rayudu walked in to bat for the first time in an ODI since the tour of Zimbabwe in mid-2013.
He and Rohit started re-building the innings as India crossed the 50-run mark only in the 17th over. But once set, the two batsmen stepped up the scoring and brought up their 50-run partnership in the 22nd over.
Rohit cut loose with a flurry of boundaries, hitting three fours and three sixes, as he brought up his 21st ODI fifty off 72 balls, and India crossed the 100-run mark in the next over.
Not to be left behind, Rayudu too attacked the bowlers and hit two sixes and three fours in his 58-ball stay at the wicket. The batsmen put on 79 runs for the third wicket as the run-rate shot up to 4.60 per over, the last 41 runs of partnership coming in 32 balls.
However, much against the run of play, Rayudu (37) was out in the 26th over. he was the third batsman on the day to lose his wicket to a short delivery. His mistimed his pull off Bennett and looped an easy catch for 'keeper Luke Ronchi.
Dhoni walked in and hit Williamson for a six straightaway. Rohit too did not curb his strokes. He hit three more fours and another six, racing to 79 runs (94 balls, six fours, four sixes) when disaster struck again.
He opened the face of the bat to a Williamson delivery going down the leg-side, and Ronchi latched on to the ball.
India’s troubles were compounded when nine runs later, just as India crossed the 150-run mark in the 33rd over, Ashwin (5), India’s hero in the Auckland match, was out, caught at third man while cutting a short and wide delivery from Southee.
Image: Ross Taylor celebrates after completing his hundred
Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images