Virat Kohli struck a magnificent hundred as he joined forces with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to power India to a comprehensive seven-wicket win over New Zealand in the third one-day international in Mohali on Sunday.
Kohli (154 not out) and Dhoni (80) put together a 151-run stand for the third wicket to help India achieve their 286-run target in 48.2 overs as the hosts took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
The batting duo not only put the innings back on track after India lost their openers early but also took the attack to the opposition bowling.
Kohli, who hit 16 fours and a six during his 134-ball knock, dominated the New Zealand bowling as he hit the ball to all parts of the ground.
Recording his 26th ODI ton, he made the most of a reprieve after he was dropped on six by Ross Taylor at gully off Matt Henry to consolidate his position as India's batting mainstay.
Dhoni, who recorded his 61st ODI fifty and went past the 9000-run mark, hit three towering sixes during his 91-ball stay but once again failed to finish off his opponents.
The 35-year-old, whose laboured knock in the previous game failed to take India over the line, scored his first fifty in a year after he promoted himself to number four.
Henry broke the big stand after Dhoni mistimed a delivery to short cover, the fielder strategically placed in that position for the wicketkeeper-batsman.
Manish Pandey made sure that he gave Kohli the perfect support to canter home in dew-laden conditions at the Mohali Stadium.
Pandey, who scored 28, and Kohli put on an unbeaten 97-run partnership to bring the home crowd to life.
Earlier Tom Latham and James Neesham struck fighting half-centuries and a late-order flourish helped New Zealand post a competitive 285.
The visitors suffered a batting slump after Latham fell for 61 but Neesham struck a 47-ball 57 to frustrate the Indian bowling attack.
Umesh Yadav and Kedar Jadhav took three wickets each to reduce New Zealand to 199 for eight, but Neesham put on 84 for the ninth wicket with Henry before the visitors were bowled out with two balls to go.
The left-handed Neesham, who recorded his maiden ODI fifty, struck seven boundaries while Henry scored an unbeaten 37-ball 39 with the help of four fours and a six.
Part-time spinner Jadhav, who has built a reputation for getting big wickets at crucial junctures, then spun into action to have skipper Kane Williamson lbw for 22.
Latham put on 73 for the third wicket with Taylor (44), the pair apparently at ease on a friendly batting wicket.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra and Jadhav worked in tandem to rattle the middle order as the visitors slipped from 153 for two to lose their next six wickets in 9.3 overs.
Neesham and Henry took the fight to the opposition as the Black Caps added 44 in the last five overs, but in the end the effort went in vain.
The two teams now head to Dhoni's hometown of Ranchi for the fourth ODI on Wednesday.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)