WELLINGTON: A commanding knock of 90 by Ambati Rayudu saw India wrap up their one-day international series against New Zealand 4-1 when they won Sunday’s final match in Wellington by 35 runs.
Rayudu rescued India from a disastrous start when the visitors were four for 18, steering his side to 252.
New Zealand’s top order also went cheaply, before a 67-run stand by Kane Williamson and Tom Latham for the fourth wicket.
But after they went in quick succession Yuzvendra Chahal led a spin assault that saw the hosts all out for 217, with Chahal taking three lbw decisions for 41.
When Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat the pressure was on India to bounce back from their paltry 92-run defeat in the fourth ODI.
For a time it looked as if another failure was looming when Matt Henry and Trent Boult ripped out the first four wickets in under 10 overs.
But when the swing bowlers were taken out of the equation, Rayudu and Vijay Shankar toyed with the attack as New Zealand used another five bowlers in a fruitless search for a wicket.
They put on 98 for the fifth wicket before Shankar was run out at 45 through miscommunication.
Rayudu faced 84 deliveries to reach 44 and only 27 balls for his remaining 46 runs in an innings that included eight fours and four sixes.
He had a life on 60 when dropped by Boult and was eventually removed when Henry, New Zealand’s most successful bowler, came back for his second spell.
Hardik Pandya provided late fireworks for India with 45 off 22 deliveries, while Henry finished with four for 35.
The New Zealand top order did not fare well with Colin Munro, recalled to replace an injured Martin Guptill, bowled on 24 after failing to make the most of his lifeline.
Ross Taylor faced four balls for one run before he was given out lbw and walked off without seeking a review only for television replays to show the ball would have missed the stumps.
It left New Zealand at three for 38 when Latham joined Williamson and grafted away for more than 15 overs.
Williamson went for 39 and Latham followed three overs later for 37.
James Neesham threatened to get New Zealand up to their target when he whacked 44 off 32 deliveries before inexplicably running himself out.
When India fruitlessly appealed for a leg before decision, Neesham stepped out of his crease in search of a possible leg bye, unaware the ball had been picked up by wicketkeeper MS Dhoni who had an easy shot at the stumps.
The series now moves on to three Twenty20 matches beginning in Wellington on Wednesday.