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India captain Virat Kohli (R) and Rohit Sharma run between the wickets during the third ODI vs New Zealand at Green Park in Kanpur on Sunday.

On the verge of winning their seventh consecutive ODI series, captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma struck sparkling centuries as India posted a challenging 337/6 in 50 overs in the third and deciding one-day international against New Zealand, at the Green Park here on Sunday.

In-form Kohli not only completed his 32nd ODI century in only his 194th innings (202nd ODI), he also achieved another milestone in his career, completing 9,000 ODI runs, thus becoming the fastest ever and sixth Indian to achieve the milestone.

When Kohli reached run-a-ball 83, he became the 19th batsman overall to score 9,000 runs. In the process, he surpassed South African AB de Villiers’ record who completed 9,000 runs in 205 innings. The previous Indian record was held by Sourav Ganguly, who had reached the landmark in his 228th innings.

Kohli’s 230-run stand for the second wicket with Rohit Sharma helped India dictate terms even though they lost opener Shikhar Dhawan (14) early after New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson put India in to bat on a placid turf.

Having scored a century in the series opener at Mumbai last week, Kohli looked firm, striking his first boundary off Tim Southee in the eighth over. Kohli punched the ball hard on the front and back-foot and kept rotating the strike with Rohit, who also looked in great form. Before offering a straight catch to Southee, Kohli made 113 off 106 balls, which contained nine fours and a six.

It was a well-timed century from Rohit, who had scores of 20 and seven in the previous two games at Mumbai and Pune. His 138-ball 147, studded with 18 fours and two sixes, was his second this month after he scored 125 against Australia in the fifth ODI at Nagpur on October 1.

The knock was a big boost for Rohit ahead of the Twenty20 series starting next week in New Delhi. After completing his century with a gentle push for a single off Mitchell Santner, Rohit became ruthless against the Kiwi bowlers.

The 30-year-old Mumbiakar never allowed the Black Caps to dominate, and picked seamer Adam Milne for special treatment. Rohit first smashed Milne’s delivery for a six in his first over from the far end, before lifting the second one over mid-on just before completing his century.

Hardik Pandya (8), who was promoted up the order at No 4, was held by Southee off Santner, while Dhoni (25, 17b, 3x4) and Kedar Jadhav (18*, 9b, 1x4, 1x6) played their part quite nicely at the end of the innings, helping India post the highest innings total at this ground. The previous best at this venue was 303 by South Africa in 2015. In that match, the Dhoni-led side had lost by five runs.

For the Black Caps, an average showing from their key bowlers, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, proved costly as the two, after struggling in the initial overs, never found the rhythm against Rohit and Kohli, conceding 66 and 81 runs, respectively in their quotas of 10 overs.

Though Southee took two wickets at the end, Boult went wicket-less. Milne and Santner shared four wickets.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

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