Chandigarh: Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 154 off just 134 deliveries as India beat New Zealand by seven wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) cricket series Chandigarh on Sunday.
Kohli, who scored his 26th ODI century, shared a 151-run stand with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (80) as India chased down New Zealand's total of 285 all out with 10 balls to spare.
Ross Taylor will look back at the moment in the fourth ball of the fifth over, replaying it in his mind and wondering just how he let that white thing made of leather pop out of his hands. There aren't too many sure things in this world, but one of them is if you drop Virat Kohli in a chase, you are likely to pay for it.
Kohli heaved a huge sigh of relief when he guided one straight to Taylor at a wide slip when he was on just six, Matt Henry the bowler and the rest of the New Zealand players, including the man who dropped the ball, looked on disbelief while also knowing pretty well that this could end up costing them the game.
It did too. Because from there, Kohli barely put a foot wrong and with MS Dhoni showing he is own brilliance with the bat, India cantered home in a chase of 286 in Mohali to clinch the third one-day international and take a series lead of 2-1.
There was plenty of help for Kohli from his captain too, with the two stalwarts of India cricket and two of the best finishers the game has ever seen putting on 151 runs for the third wicket.
Dhoni's decision to push himself up to No.4 worked wonders and Kohli and the captain, after India found themselves in a tricky position at 41/2 following Rohit Sharma's wicket, went about chasing down the target with near-surgical precision.
MSD, played a Henry delivery too early and chipped the ball to Ross Taylor, who hung on this time, in the covers.
India needed a further 91 runs from 14.1 overs at that point and there was no doubt, not even the slightest that they wouldn't knock those down, not with Kohli in the mood that he was in, even if Manish Pandey deserves a lot of credit for playing his role to a T at the other end.
Earlier, New Zealand blew hot, then cold and then hot again in a crazy innings, which saw a brilliant partnership from Jimmy Neesham and Henry for the ninth wicket.
After Martin Guptill (27, 21-ball) got the Kiwis off to a fast start, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor set about building a solid base with a partnership of 73.
However, from a comfortable 153/2 in the 29th over, it all went pear-shaped for the Black Caps, thanks to some outstanding bowling from Amit Mishra and the golden arm of Kedar Jadhav, who continues to befuddle the New Zealand batsmen.
Mishra ended the partnership by bamboozling Taylor with a gorgeous leg-spinner, before Jadhav picked up Corey Anderson. Another brilliant leg-spinner saw Luke Ronchi walking back and after Tom Latham fell victim to Jadhav, who had also earlier picked up the wicket of Kane Williamson, Jasprit Bumrah sent Mitchell Santner packing.
New Zealand found themselves on 180/7 and then 199/8 when Tim Southee fell to Umesh Yadav, before Neesham and Henry put on a quite brilliant 84-run partnership at just a shade over 11 overs.
Thanks to that partnership, the New Zealand bowlers had a solid target to defend, but no total would have been enough, not with Kohli in this kind of form.
New Zealand - 285 (Latham 61, Neesham 57, Jadhav 3-29)
India - 289 for 3 (Kohli 154*, Dhoni 80)
Result- India won by seven wickets
MOM - Virat Kohli (India)