An aggressive 138 not out by Gautam Gambhir [ Images ] ensured India [ Images ] a comprehensive eight-wicket win over New Zealand [ Images ] in the second One-Day International at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur [ Images ] on Wednesday.
Chasing a competitive 259 to win, the home team eased through with seven overs to spare.
It was India's second successive win in the five-match series, after an equally comprehensive 40-run triumph at Guwahati, and reiterated the fact that New Zealand will need something special to avoid a whitewash.
Two dominant wins by a second string Indian side clearly underlines the fact that the Kiwis have some serious homework to do not only to salvage the ongoing series but also to brighten their chances in the World Cup, to be played on the subcontinent in a few months time.
As things stand at present, following an embarrasing defeat in Bangladesh and an impending similar result in theis series, things aren't looking rosy for the Kiwis.
The captain led from the front with a majestic innings that made the match a no contest. It was Gambhir's eighth ODI hundred, his first against New Zealand and palpably his first as a captain.
The 29-year-old's 116-ball knock was inclusive of 18 hits to the fence.
No points for guessing he was awarded the man-of-the-match for his magnificent effort.
Virat Kohli [ Images ] impressed yet again, following his majestic 105 at Guwahati with an equally well-made 64.
The Delhi [ Images ] duo put on 116 runs for the second wicket to build on the foundation provided by an equally impressive opening wicket stand of 87 between the captain and fellow opener Murali Vijay [ Images ] (33).
New Zealand innings:
Earlier, a good bowling effort by India restricted New Zealand to a modest total. The visitors made 258 for eight in their stipulated 50 overs.
It was a shoddy batting effort from New Zealand considering it was a good batting wicket and also the fact that they have to contend with the dew factor when they come out to bowl.
There were three good partnerships for New Zealand but in all the cases they were broken when they looked to threaten.
The Indian bowlers bowled a tight line to restrict the Kiwi batsmen for most parts of their innings. More importanly, they applied the brakes at regular intervals to ensure the visitors failed to build their innings in a manner they would have wanted to.
Opener Martin Guptill [ Images ] offered semblance of resistance early on with a patient half-century. It was his eighth ODI fifty, his third against India. And a very important one in the context of the game.
And vetaran Scott Styris [ Images ] (59) provided the solidity required in the middle, the 35-year-old registering his 26th ODI half century in the process.
Captain Daniel Vettori [ Images ] (31) also reached a personal landmark.
When on 21, the 31-year-old reached the 2000-run landmark in ODIs, thereby becoming the 18th player from New Zealand to do so.
S Sreesanth [ Images ] was India's most successful bowler with figures of four for 47.
The Kerala [ Images ] speedster had an excellent opening spell (6-1-22-1). However, though he was expensive in his second spell in comparison, he snared three wickets.
Earlier, Guptill glanced Ashish Nehra's [ Images ] first ball to the fine-leg boundary. Two balls later, the ball was smashed through covers for another four.
And when Jamie How (5) hit the first ball of the second over by Sreesanth to the fence it seemed New Zealand were well on their way to a good start.
However, Sreesanth had the opener caught behind in the fourth over. For How, who had survived a loud leg before appeal off Nehra in the previous over, it was a second successive failure.
Kane Williamson [ Images ] (29) ease the pressure a bit with three boundaries off Nehra, the first couple pulled through square leg and the third punched firmly past mid-on.
When on 11, Guptill reached the 1000-run mark in one-dayers. He lived dangerously in Sreesanth's fifith over but was fortunate to survive.
After 10 overs, the visitors had made 40 for one.
The second wicket stand for New Zealand yielded exactly 50 runs (in 77 balls)before Munaf Patel [ Images ] provided India a second breakthrough, cleaning up Williamson.
It wasn't a great delivery from Munaf but Williamson made a basic error of leaving abig gap between the bat and the pad.
Ross Taylor [ Images ] (15), when on four, found fortune smiling at him when Ashwin dropped him at deep square leg off Munaf.
Taylor celebrated the reprieve by pulling Yuvraj over deep midwicket for a maximum, the first of the New Zealand innings.
However, the introduction of Yusuf Pathan [ Images ] into the attack helped India get rid off Taylor, the former having the dangerous kiwi batsman caught by Virat Kohli at deep midwicket.
Taylor's shot selection left a lot to be desired especially considering the fact that his team wasn't exactly in a position to afford his extravagance. His slog sweep straight to the fielder's hand ensured India didn't have to pay a heavy price for letting him off early on.
Guptill reached his half century soon after.
The 24-year-old celebrated the same by smashing Pathan over deep midwicket for a maximum. In fact that Pathan over, his fourth, cost India 13 runs, the most successful one till that point from New Zealand's point of view. Not for long though
In the 35th over, New Zealand opted to take the batting powerplay.
Styris smashed Yuvraj first through extra cover and then though cover for a couple of boundaries to make it a productive over for his side. Yuvraj's eighth over cost India 15 runs.
However, Ashwin provided India a much-needed breakthrough in the next over, having Guptill caught behind with a stock carrom ball.
There was a bit of drama involved in the dismissal. Thinking it was appeal for stumping, Nigel Llong, the leg umpire, called for the third umpire (Sudhir Asnani). However, by then Sanjay Hazare had already adjudged the batsman out.
Guptill's patient 102-ball 70 was inclusive of three hits to the fence and a huge one over it. More importantly, he put on an important 65-run partnership with Styris for the fourth wicket.
And his dismissal at the crucial juncture ensured New Zealand could only manage 33 runs in the batting power play.
However, the arrivall of Vettori helped the visitors up the ante, the Kiwi captain stepping up the pedal from the beginning.
The by-now-well-settled started provided a perfect foil. And the duo picked up runs at a faster rate.
In the process, Styris reached his 26th ODI fifty, his sixth against India. The veteran celebrated the same by hoisting Ashwin over deep midwicket for a maximum, the shot also helping raise the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
However, his extravagance cost him his wicket.
Sreesanth struck in the first ball on his return (in the 46th over) when Styris skied him and Saha made no mistake. Styris' 56-ball 59 was inclusive of five hits to the fence and the above-mentioned one over it.
And his fifth wicket stand with Vettori yielded New Zealand a valuable 58 runs. However, his reckless dismissal at a crucial juncture meant the visitors lost the plot yet again.
In the next ball after his dismissal, Sreesanth struck again, rattling Vettori's stumps. Nathan McCullum (12) though denied the bowler a hat-trick.
McCullum was run out but Gareth Hopkins (11 not out) and more importantly Kyle Mills [ Images ] (13) ensured the New Zealand total had a semblance of respectability to it.
Mills took 12 off Sreesanth's final over, including a massive six over long-off, to help his side cross the 250-run mark.
Despite their many bloopers, the New Zealand batsmen managed to add 79 runs in the final 10 overs of their innings.
The bowler had the last laugh though, rattling the former's stumps in the penultimate delivery.
Earlier, India captain Gautam Gambhir won the toss and elected to field. Gambhir said he was worried about dew affecting the bowlers in the second half and therefore had elected to bowl first.
However, the groundstaff are hoping to reduce the impact of dew by using the ropes and super sopers at regular intervals during the second innings.
India, having won the opening match by 40 runs, retained the same side.
The New Zealand think tank surprised a bit by making Nathan McCullum open the bowling, a la Dipak Patel in the 1992 World Cup.
And to his credit, the spinner did a good job giving away just 17 runs in his first six overs.
However, while playing him with caution, the Indian batsmen targetted Kyle Mills for the aggression bit.
Gambhir, in particular, hit as many as five boundaries in the bowler's first four overs. With Mills proving expensive (4-0-30-0), Vettori handed the ball to Andy McKay in the 10th over.
However, there was no respite, Gambhir bring up the 50-run partnership with his seventh boundary.
Soon after, the Indian captain reached his fifty with a couple off Styris. Gambhir reached his 22nd ODI half-century off just 44 balls, with eight hits to the fence.
After 13 overs, the hosts had made 67 without loss, with Gambhir having contributed 51 of them.
However Vijay, virtually a spectator to his captain's assault from the non-striker's end till that point, smashed Vettori over midwicket for what was his first boundary (in the 14th over).
Another behind point off Styris a few overs later helped him register his highest ODI score (32) surpassing his 29 at Guwahati. In between though, the Tamil Nadu batsman had survived a few vociferous leg before appeals by Vettori.
The New Zealand captain had the last word though, cleaning up the batsman to provide his side a much needed breakthrough.
The first wicket stand yielded India 87 runs. The scoring rate slowed down a bit thereafter and predictably so.
Nonetheless Gambhir and Kohli put on a solid 50-plus partnership for the second wicket, the former bringing up the same with a boundary off Williamson.
Kohli hit successive boundaries off Southee, the first pulled over square leg and the second punched through cover and point, to raise the 150 of the Indian innings.
A boundary between deep square leg and fine legg off Mills helped Kohli reach his ninth ODI half-century, a perfect follow-up to his hundred in the Guwahati ODI.
The 100-run partnership was reached in quick time and then Gambhir reached yet personal milestone, an eighth ODI hundred with a boundary over midwicket off McKay.
Kohli hit successive boundaries in the same over before McKay got his revenge, having the former caught by Taylor at midwicket.
Kohli's 73-ball 64 was inclusive of eight hits to the fence and his 116-run partnership with Gambhir had virtually ensured the end result.
Yuvraj Singh [ Images ] (16 not out) announced his arrival with a massive six over deep midwicket off McCullum.
The next over by McKay, his seventh and the 39th of the innings, was the most expensive with India taking 17 runs out of it, Gambhir finding the fence three times on the trot.
With just 27 needed of 11 overs, any hopes New Zealand might have harboured of an improbable comeback evaporated.
And Gambhir and Yuvraj's quickfire 53-run partnership for the third wicket, which came off just 37 balls, ensured the visitors had some more time to ponder about what exactly has gone wrong with their team.
India: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina [ Images ], Yusuf Pathan, Wridhimann Saha, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel.
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori, (captain), Jamie How, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Kane Williamson, Gareth Hopkins, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Andy McKay, Tim Southee.