By Fakir Balaji
Bangalore, Dec 8 (IANS) With a maiden century in the shorter version of the game, all-rounder Yusuf Pathan fashioned India's victory in the rain-hit fourth one-day international against New Zealand at the M.Chinnaswamy cricket stadium here.
Set to score 316 for the fourth consecutive win in the five ODI series, Pathan pulverised the New Zealand attack to hit a brilliant 123 off 96 balls, with seven mighty sixes and another seven hits to the fence all over the ground.
Pathan, who was declared man of the match, also succeeded with the ball, taking three valuable wickets for 49 runs in nine overs.
Middle order batsman Saurabh Tiwary, who joined Pathan after the fall of Rohit Sharma (44) when India was at 188 in 34 overs, hit the winning run with a six over long-on in the 49th over to wrap-up the innings at 321 for five wickets.
Though intermittent rains held up play for an hour when India was at 203 in 35 overs, Pathan and Tiwary settled down quickly to steady the innings and scored at will to post a record 133-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
All attempts by New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori to break the partnership by changing bowlers on both sides of the wicket failed to stop the rampaging Pathan, who scored his first 100 in an ODI with a six in 76 balls.
At the other end, the southpaw Tiwary, who scored 37 of 39 balls with three 4s and one six, not only rotated the strike rate, but ensured Pathan got to bat more for accelerating the run rate and turn the tables.
India began well with skipper Gautam Gambhir and wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel striking the ball and posting 69 runs for the first wicket while chasing a challenging target of 315 runs set by New Zealand.
Though Gambhir, who hit back-to-back centuries in the previous two ODIs, got out cheaply for 27 and was followed quickly by in-form batsman Virat Kohli for a duck, Yuvraj Singh and Patel steadied the Indian innings past 100 in 17 overs.
When Yuvraj and Patel exited in the span of two overs with the score still at 108, Pathan joined Sharma to steady the innings through the middle overs.
New Zealand pacers Andy McKay and Nathan McCullum were successful in taking two wickets each and trying to restrict the Indian batsmen from chasing the target. Tim Southee took one wicket.
Earlier, New Zealand demonstrated a fighting spirit in scoring 315 runs in the stipulated 50 overs for the loss of seven wickets.
Put to bat in chilly conditions after Gambhir won the toss on a cloudy afternoon, middle order batsman James Franklin steered the innings till the last, scoring 98 in just 69 balls with dozen fours and three mighty sixes and missing a century by two runs.
Undeterred by the loss of the series with three consecutive defeats, Franklin tormented the Indian attack and the team posted 86 runs in the 1ast 10 slog overs, including 64 in the last five overs.