WELLINGTON: Ambati Rayudu rescued India from a disastrous start for the tourists to post 252 batting first in the fifth and final one-day international against New Zealand in Wellington on Sunday.
Rayudu, under pressure to prove he is India’s best number four option for the World Cup, came in at 12 for two and compiled his 10th half-century in a 113-ball stand for 90.
India, who romped home in the first three matches in the series, were looking to bounce back from an eight wicket hiding in the fourth.
But for the second game in a row their top order failed to fire and they were four for 17 in the seventh over before Vijay Shankar joined Rayudu to put on 98 for the fifth wicket.
A mix-up saw Shankar depart for 45 after he called wait and Rayudu took off.
The batsman responded late and was well short of the crease when Colin Munro threw down the stumps.
Rayudu, dropped by Trent Boult on 60, had eight fours and four sixes in his innings and a century in his sights when he was caught off Matt Henry, New Zealand’s most successful bowler.
When stand-in captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and opted to bat he said India would have to be cautious through the early overs before opening up.
But their attempts at restraint counted for little and after 10 overs they were four for 22 runs, a considerably worse performance than the previous match when they were three for 33.
Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had only eight runs on the board at the start of the fifth over when Henry produced a ball that swung away late, bowling the captain for two.
In quick succession Boult removed Dhawan (six), Henry saw off Shubman Gill for seven and MS Dhoni was bowled by Boult for one.
Henry bowled his first seven overs straight and had two for 11 and came back to take two more wickets and finish with four for 35.
Boult took three for 39 while Hardik Pandya provided late fireworks for India with 45 off 22 deliveries. —AFP