Skipper Gautam Gambhir [ Images ] cracked an unbeaten 126, his second century on the trot, to power India [ Images ] to a series-clinching nine-wicket victory over New Zealand [ Images ] in the third ODI in Vadodara on Saturday.
The Delhi [ Images ] left-hander played a captain's knock that followed his match-winning unbeaten 138 in the second ODI in Jaipur on December 1 as India easily chased down the target of 225 in 39.3 overs to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Gambhir, who smashed 16 boundaries with his flicks and drives in the 117 balls he faced, put on 115 runs for the opening wicket with Murali Vijay [ Images ] who made a slow 30 in 50 balls before being run out.
The solid foundation laid by Gambhir, who notched up his ninth ODI hundred in 103 matches, with Vijay was carried forward by number three batsman Virat Kohli [ Images ], who continued his form from where he left in the previous two matches.
Kohli, who had scored a match-winning ton at Guwahati and a half century in Jaipur [ Images ], remained unbeaten on 63 in 70 balls with six fours and two sixes. He also hit the winning runs, a six over long on.
The second wicket duo of Gambhir and Kohli put on 114 runs in 125 balls without being separated to help the home team score a comprehensive victory in front of a weekend, capacity crowd.
Saturday's win, India's ninth successive ODI victory over New Zealand, left the remaining two matches in the five-match series in Bangalore (December 7) and Chennai (December 10) just mere contests of academic interest.
The hosts won the opening match at Guwahati by 40 runs and then took a 2-0 lead with a thumping eight-wicket victory in the second ODI in Jaipur.
Chasing New Zealand's modest score, built around James Franklin's unbeaten 72, India were on the offensive from the first ball thanks to Gambhir who raced to his 50 in only 30 balls with nine fours and then got his next 50 in 58 balls with the help of four fours.
He struck left arm Andy McKay for three successive fours after having dispatched the other new ball bowler Kyle Mills [ Images ] for two in as many balls previously.
The manner in which the 29-year-old Delhi player batted blew away any hopes New Zealand might have nurtured to come back into the match after posting a modest score when conditions were slightly in favour of the bowlers.
Earlier in the morning, another left-hander, James Franklin, led New Zealand's revival with an unbeaten half century and helped the visitors recover from a poor start to post a fighting score.
The visitors made a disastrous start by losing their openers within the first five overs and were struggling at 106 for seven before Franklin (72 not out) and Nathan McCullum staged the recovery act with a stand of 94.
Left-handed Franklin batted sensibly after coming in at 49 for 4 in the 16th over even as continued to tumble from the other end.
He top-scored for the Black Caps with the help of five fours and one six in 108 balls while McCullum made 43 in 53 balls with four fours.
Their eighth-wicket stand off 107 balls took the score to 200 after the Kiwis had lost half their side for 77.
Apart from the eighth wicket pair, only opener Martin Guptill [ Images ] (12) and Scott Styris [ Images ] (22) reached the double figures in a largely uninspiring display put up by the Kiwis after they were asked to bat first by the hosts.
The pitch for the match was a major surprise at a venue that normally provides flat tracks. There was a lot of bounce for the pace bowlers and bounce and turn for the spinners.
New Zealand batsmen, having played on low bouncing tracks after coming to India in early November, were undone by the extra bounce.
Zaheer Khan utilized the bounce to the fullest extent in his splendid first spell of seven overs as he made early inroads into the Kiwi top order.
Coming off after a three-week lay-off, the left-arm paceman struck in the second legal ball of his first over when he prised out danger man Brendon McCullum [ Images ], who also came into the series after missing the opening two ties because of a back problem.
McCullum was caught at second slip by Murali Vijay off a rising ball that moved away a shade.
Munaf bowled tightly to return with one for 28 while spinners Yusuf Pathan and Ashwin did their but in the middle overs to claim 2 for 27 and 2 for 49 respectively.
When India batted, Gambhir straightaway got into his groove by singling out Mills for special treatment.
Though Vijay crawled at the other end, the aggressive approach by his captain ensured that the hosts were never put under any pressure.