The third ODI between New Zealand and India at Mount Maunganui on Monday was a match crucial for two very different reasons. Firstly, with the visitors leading the series 2-0 after two matches, it was a chance for Virat Kohli and his men to take an unassailable 3-0 lead, and confirm yet another ODI series win.
But more importantly, the fixture was extremely crucial for Hardik Pandya, who was returning to India's playing XI for the first time since his suspension was temporarily lifted post his controversial comments on a TV show.
Hardik is crucial to India's balance in their playing XI. He provides the team a fifth bowler who can get through his quota of 10 overs and give the team a new dimension in their batting line-up. And on Monday, he showed what why he is the best all-rounder India has presently.
He ended with figures of 2 for 45 in his 10 overs as India bowled out the hosts for 243. But the true sign of his comeback was his part in the dismissal of Kiwis skipper Kane Williamson.
In the 17th over, Yuzvendra Chahal bowled a flighted delivery, which Williamson tried to play on the leg side. The ball was air-borne, and Hardik, fielding at the midwicket, produced a superman effort to complete a sensational catch.
India continued their sensational form in the limited-overs format on Monday by bowling out New Zealand for 243 in less than their quota of 50 overs. Leading the series 2-0, Kohli and his bowlers yet again bamboozled the hosts with some incredible bowling.
Unlike the previous games, it was the Indian pacers who wreaked havoc this time around. The fast-bowling duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami took five wickets among them, while Pandya also contributed with two wickets. Yuzvendra Chahal continued on his brilliant form by picking another two wickets, though, surprisingly, his spinning partner, Kuldeep Yadav, ended wicketless.
Chasing a paltry 244, the Indian openers made a positive start yet again, putting in 39 for the first wicket. Despite Shikhar Dhawan's dismissal for 28, the visitors were in command in their chase as Rohit Sharma and Kohli took centrestage. At the time of writing, India 132 for 1 after 25 overs, needing just 112 in the remaining overs.