Virat Kohli scored yet another century – his 16th in a run chase – and MS Dhoni added 80 from number four as India chased down 286 at the PCA Stadium in Mohali to take a 2-1 series lead over New Zealand on Sunday (October 23). Kohli benefited from a drop catch by Ross Taylor when on 6 but was largely untroubled through the rest of his 26th One-Day International hundred as he put on 151-runs for the third wicket with his captain to guide India home with seven wickets and ten balls to spare.
For Kohli, it was simply the replaying of a rather familiar script in a target hunt where he cruised about undeterred, delivering boundaries – 17 in all – on request and finishing with a rapid flourish on what was the truest surface for batting in the series so far. In Dhoni, who promoted himself up the order, Kohli also had a partner capable of running hard between the wickets when the boundaries didn’t come as frequently.
But the chase of 286 didn’t get off to the best of starts. Ajinkya Rahane mowed a ball towards midwicket for four and then found extra cover with an attempted drive over point. Rohit Sharma was consumed by a clever Tim Southee off-cutter and India had slipped to a precarious 41 for 2 in the ninth over. New Zealand could have moved firmly in control of the game had Taylor held on to a rather straight forward chance at fly slip to dismiss Kohli off the bowling of Henry between these two dismissals. Henry clutched his hair in despair, mindful of the magnitude of the lapse. Perhaps it was a ploy and it so nearly bore fruits. As it turned out, it wasn’t to be.
Dhoni’s promotion up the order was coming. He had been hinting at moving up for quite a while now and with a fluent Kohli for company, got going with an authoritative pull for four. He was not perturbed facing up to the short ball early on his innings, repeatedly getting inside the line of the ball and bisecting fielders in the deep on the leg side. Kohli, too, tightened his game after the early reprieve, playing largely through the ‘V’. Unlike in New Delhi, with the pitch playing true, Williamson couldn’t dry the singles against either batsman. Dhoni, in particular, was unwilling to let either Mitchell Santner or the fifth bowler James Neesham settle, repeatedly stepping out and hitting them towards the sightscreen. Kohli got to his fifty off 54 balls and was followed to the milestone soon by his captain, who reached the mark off his 59th delivery.