India suffered its worst One-Day International series defeat in New Zealand, losing 0-4, after being trounced by 87 runs in the inconsequential fifth and final match in Wellington on Friday.
The famed batting line-up came a cropper again as the tourists were dismissed for 216 in 49.4 overs, chasing 304 at the Westpac stadium.
Virat Kohli's 82 was the saving grace in the face of an excellent display by the home bowlers, led superbly by debutant Matt Henry, who finished with figures of 4 for 38.
Earlier, Ross Taylor slammed his second successive hundred to power the hosts to an imposing 303 for five.
Besides the tie in the third ODI in Auckland, India lost matches in Napier and Hamilton (twice).
Friday’s big defeat extended the team’s disastrous overseas performance. India lost the three-match ODI series in South Africa 0-2 before coming to New Zealand. While the third ODI was washed-out, the team suffered embarrassing defeats in the first two matches, losing by 141 and 134 runs in Johannesburg and Durban respectively.
India lost 2-5 to New Zealand in a seven-match ODI series in 2002-03. The last time the Indians failed to win even a single match in New Zealand was in 1975-76 and 1980-81, when they lost two-match series’ 0-2.
Chasing 304 runs for their first victory on the tour, the Men in Blue got off to a slow start, taking six overs to get the score into double digits.
Rohit Sharma (4) was the first to go, when he offered slip-catching practice to Taylor in the fifth over, bowled by Kyle Mills (2-35).
Shikhar Dhawan (9), returning to the eleven after spending the last match on the bench, also looked uncomfortable and Henry got rid of him to get his maiden international wicket.
The 22-year-old pacer wound up the left-handed batsman in the 10th over before inducing an edge, which was safely pouched by Nathan McCullum in the slips.
Four overs later, with the total 30 for 2, Ainkya Rahane (2) missed a straight delivery from Henry, trying to play it off his legs, and was adjudged leg before.
India were staring at another massive defeat even as Kohli put up resistance and found support in Ambati Rayudu. The latter took his time getting set, hitting two fours off the 40 balls he faced, but couldn't get past 20 runs.
Looking to hit Henry over square on the off-side, Rayudu stepped out and only made room to hit straight to Williamson.
His dismissal was a serious blow for India, as the two batsmen had added 48 runs 64 balls, at a decent run-rate of 4.5 per over.
It was yet again left to Dhoni and Kohli to revive the innings. They battled bravely, putting on 67 runs for the fifth wicket off 61 balls.
Kohli brought up his 30th ODI fifty, off 60 balls, inclusive of five fours and a six, in the 30th over of the innings. However, with the run-rate rising past 10-per-over, he went for big shots and perished in the process, caught at long-on by substitute Peter Young-Husband off Nathan McCullum (1-33) in the 37th over. He scored 82 off 78 balls, including seven fours and three sixes.
Soon Dhoni also perished, caught at long-off trying to clear the ropes, off Williamson (2-19) in the 45th over. He scored 47 off 72 balls, with three fours.
Ravichandran Ashwin (7) and Ravindra Jadeja (5) were out cheaply while Buvneshwar Kumar (20 runs, 25 balls, one four) was Henry's fourth victim, as the Kiwis clinched victory in the final over when James Neesham (1-45) bowled Varun Aaron (0).
Earlier, put in to bat, Taylor (102) shared a 152-run partnership with Kane Williamson (88) for the third wicket to rescue New Zealand from a precarious 41-2 at one stage.
His 106-ball innings was studded with 10 hits to the fence and one six, while Williamson, who scored his fifth consecutive half-century, blasted eight fours and a six off 91 balls.
For India, Varun Aaron (2-60) was the most successful bowler, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-48) and Mohammad Shami (1-61) provided decent support.
Virat Kohli took the only other wicket to fall, while the spinners, R Ashwin (0-37) and Ravindra Jadeja (0-54) went wicket-less.
Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss for a fifth consecutive time and opted to bowl first, reverting to his original strategy deployed in the first three matches.
Unlike the previous three occasions, the Indian bowling started off well this time around. There was a little cloud cover at the beginning of the New Zealand innings as Kumar and Shami made good use of the conditions to keep a tight leash on the openers. The latter started off with two maiden overs, as only ten runs came from the first five overs.
Jesse Ryder (17) tried to break the shackles but, in doing so, gave away his wicket in the eighth over as Ajinkya Rahane, at gully, held on to a good catch on second attempt.
Only 31 runs came in the first ten overs, with Martin Guptill (16, 35 balls, two fours) falling soon after, caught by Shami off Aaron in the 13th over. The bowler heaved a sigh of relief as he had earlier dropped Guptill when he was on nine.
Ashwin came on to bowl in the 14th over, while Jadeja was held back until the 23rd, even as Williamson and Taylor scored runs with ease. Their 50-run partnership came off only 50 balls in the 21st over, while the 100-mark came up in the very next one.
There wasn't any let up, however, as Williamson and Taylor again put the Indian bowling to the sword in the middle. They shared 152 runs off 151 balls to set the foundation of a big total.
After the two were dismissed, young James Neesham provided the late charge, scoring 34 off 19 balls, including three fours and two sixes, to take New Zealand across the 300 mark.
Williamson went on to score his fifth consecutive half-century of the series, and his 11th overall in ODIs, reaching the mark off 64 balls, with three fours, in the 30th over.
He equalled the record of Pakistan’s Yasir Hameed against New Zealand back in 2003, and, in doing so, became only the second batsman to achieve the feat.
Meanwhile in the next over, Taylor too brought up his third half-century of the series, getting there in 54 balls, with six fours. They also celebrated their 100-run partnership in that over, and accelerated after that in pursuit of another 300-plus target.
The pair reached the 150-run mark in the 37th over, but with the score on 193, Williamson was caught at point by Rahane off Aaron and missed a hundred once again.
Brendon McCullum then came out to bat in the second powerplay that yielded 42 runs for Williamson's wicket, and he had two near escapes, with Rohit Sharma failing to run him out in the 43rd over.
Then two balls later, Shami dropped him at long-on. The Kiwis' skipper was on 18 at that time and went on to score 23 runs before offering a straight catch to Rohit off Kohli in the next over.
Thereafter, Taylor got to his second consecutive hundred in the series, his 10th overall, following up on the unbeaten 112 in the fourth ODI at Hamilton.
He got to the milestone in the 48th over, off 105 balls. He was out immediately afterwards, caught in the deep by Suresh Raina off Shami off the next delivery.
With only a few balls remaining, Luke Ronchi (11) and Neesham threw their bats around in a bid to garner quick runs. The 23-year-old Neesham took 17 runs off the 50th over, bowled by Shami, as the 300-run mark came up.
The Indian death bowling was up to the mark leading up to that moment but still ended up giving away 91 runs in the last ten overs.
Image: Matt Henry (centre) celebrates after dismissing Shikhar Dhawan, with teammates Kane Williamson (left) and Luke Ronchi, during the fifth One-Day International at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images