Visakhapatnam (AFP): Half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli helped India post a competitive 269 for six against a disciplined New Zealand bowling attack in the deciding fifth one-day international in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
With the series tied at 2-2, the hosts opted to bat first as Sharma (70) and Kohli (65) put together a 79-run second wicket stand to lay a solid foundation for the middle order.
India were at one point eyeing a bigger score, only to be pulled back by the visiting bowlers, as pacer Trent Boult and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi claimed two wickets each.
Sharma, who had struggled with scores of 14, 15, 13 and 11 in the series, regained his form, after losing his opening partner Ajinkya Rahane early, to register his 29th ODI fifty.
Sharma hit 5 fours and 3 sixes during his 65-ball stay but did not capitalise on a reprieve at 66 by Ross Taylor as he fell to Boult in the very next over.
Kohli carried on the good work, making the most of his early lifeline on eight when Sodhi failed to latch on to a return drive off his own bowling.
The in-form Kohli put on 71 runs for the third wicket with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who scored 41, as the duo batted with resolve.
Kohli played a controlled knock to register his 38th ODI fifty as he struck a fine balance between attack and defence.
Dhoni, who is trying to settle in his new number four slot, also played a watchful innings before being trapped lbw to Mitchell Santner after missing an attempted sweep.
New Zealand spinners kept chipping away with Sodhi getting Manish Pandey for nought and then the big wicket of Kohli in the 44th over to check India’s surge.
However a late assault from Kedar Jadhav, who remained unbeaten on 39, and Axar Patel, who struck an 18-ball 24, gave the hosts’ total more muscle on a tricky pitch.
The batting duo added 46 runs for the sixth wicket to add 38 runs to the Indian total in the last five overs.