New Zealand sealed their one-day international series against India with a game to spare Tuesday when a Ross Taylor century set up a convincing seven-wicket victory in the fourth ODI.
It was New Zealand's third win in the five-match series, with one match tied and one remaining.
At Hamilton's Seddon Park, they chased down India's 278-5 for the loss of only three wickets and with 11 balls to spare after Taylor paved the way with a masterful 112 not out.
He received sound support from Kane Williamson (60) as they rebuilt the innings and then from Brendon McCullum (49 not out), who finished the match with a colossal six.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had won the toss and opted to bowl in the first three games, won the toss again and this time decided to bat.
But the change of tactics did not improve their fortunes.
In addition to losing the series, India also slipped from number one in the world one-day rankings to number two, behind Australia.
New Zealand improved from a lowly eighth to seventh.
McCullum described Taylor's innings as the "match-winning performance" on a wicket that tends to favour the side batting first.
"We knew someone was going to have to get a big 100 and we saw it from Rosco (Taylor). Obviously his partnership with Kane was the backbone of our innings."
Dhoni paid credit to the New Zealand bowlers whom he said set up the victory.
"They put pressure on the batsmen to play the big shots and at times it doesn't pay (to play them). We lost wickets at the wrong time, which put pressure on the middle order," the Indian captain said.
Faced with a target of 279 on a run-laden wicket, New Zealand opened at a rapid rate with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill clocking up 54 in seven overs before falling in quick succession.
Ryder was bowled by Varun Aaron for 19 and Guptill was trapped leg before by Mohammed Shami for 35, leaving Williamson and Taylor to consolidate the innings as they have done so often before.
Their cautious approach to India's spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja saw the run rate slump, although New Zealand still reached 100 in 22 overs compared to 25 overs for India.
Williamson and Taylor put on 130 for the third wicket, taking New Zealand to 188, when the partnership was broken by a slick piece of fielding by Jadeja.
Williamson prodded a Jadeja delivery towards mid on but the bowler fielded, turned and threw down the stumps - leaving Williamson well short of an attempted quick single.
McCullum, coming in off back-to-back ducks, offered Mohammed Shami a tough caught and bowled chance on one, then joined Taylor in a 92-run stand to close out the game.
Taylor, who has not hit a six all series, had 15 fours in his 112 off 127 deliveries, while McCullum faced 36 balls and hit three sixes and four fours in his 49.
India's innings was built around an unbeaten 127-run stand between Dhoni (79 not out) and Jadeja (62 not out).
Rohit Sharma (79) and Ambati Rayudu (37) were the only other India batsmen to reach double figures.
The experiment of promoting Virat Kohli to opener failed to pay off when he was dismissed for two in the fourth over.
Ajinkya Rahane went for three and Ambati Rayudu for 37 as the first three Indian wickets to fall all resulted from uncontrolled hook shot.
For New Zealand, Southee was the most economical bowler with two wickets for 36.
The final ODI is in Wellington on Friday, to be followed by two Tests.
NEW ZEALAND INNINGS
Five overs to go and NZ are 251 for 3. India were 223 for 5 after 45 overs.
Taylor slashes Aaron through point area for a four to bring up his 100, his 9th from 136 ODIs.
Captain Brendon McCullum steps out and blasts Bhuvneshwar over covers for a six. Aaron gets a similar treatment from Brendon. NZ 235 for 3 after 42 overs.
New Zealand inch towards their target of 279. After 40 overs they are 212 for 3 and India were 178 for 5.
A silly run-out as Williamson tries a cheeky single but Jadeja is quick on the ball from his own bowling and hits the stumps at the non-striker's end. NZ 188-3 after 34.2 overs.
Kane Williamson run out 60 (82b 2x4 2x6) SR: 73.17
After 30 overs NZ are 167 for 2. India were 121 for 3.
Williamson helps himself to a 50 as the Kiwis seem to be cruising to their target. NZ 160-2 after 29 overs.
The 100 partnership comes up between Taylor and Williamson and it has taken them only 125 balls.
Taylor pushes Rayudu for a single to get to his 50 off 62 balls with seven fours.
NZ are 123 for 2 after 25 overs, while India were 100 for 2.
Binny gets just one over and the ball is thrown to Rayudu.
Taylor and Williamson steady the Kiwis with a 50-run partnership.
Stuart Binny, who didn't get to bat earlier, comes to bowl his first ball in international cricket.
Umpires call for drinks break. NZ 95-2 after 20 overs. India were 60-2.
The hosts need another 200 runs from 35 overs to clinch the series.
New Zealand cruise to 65 for 2 after 10 overs. India were 28 for 2 at the same stage.
India are back in the game as Shami strikes in the next over trapping in-form Guptill. NZ 58-2 after 8.1 overs.
Martin Guptill lbw b Mohammed Shami 35 (27b 6x4 1x6) SR: 129.62
Varun Aaron gets the much-needed breakthrough for India after Ryder plays on to his stumps. NZ 54-1 after 7.2 overs.
Jesse Ryder b Aaron 19 (18b 4x4 0x6) SR: 105.55
Kiwis race to 54 off just 42 balls as Guptill hooks Bhuvneshwar for a six.
Last match centurion Guptill looks in sublime form with back-to-back boundaries off Shami.
Boundaries keep coming in a heap as NZ reach 33-0 in five overs.
Flurry of fours from Jesse Ryder helped by some poor fielding by the Indians see the NZ race to 20 off two overs.
Martin Guptill plays aggressively and manages two fours, one off a misfield by Varun Aaron and the other an inside-edge to square-leg boundary.
Half centuries from opening batsman Rohit Sharma, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja took India to a comfortable total of 278 for 5 against New Zealand in the fourth ODI in Hamilton on Tuesday.
After winning his fourth successive toss Dhoni elected to bat this time and made two changes to the side, bringing in Stuart Binny and Ambati Rayudu for Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina.
The move seemed to have backfired as Virat Kohli who opened the innings went back cheaply. Ajinkya Rahane too followed him immediately. However, Sharma (79) held the innings together with Ambati Rayudu (37) only for Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to play some big shots later in the innings and catapult the score which at one stage looked difficult.
Dhoni was unbeaten on 79 from 73 balls with six fours and three towering sixes, while Jadeja continued his good form from the last match with an equally attacking 62 from 54 balls with eight fours and two sixes. The two slammed 100 runs in the last 10 overs with their unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 127 coming from 101 balls.
It's Jadeja's turn to reach his 50, his second successive half century, slashing a wayward Bennett through covers for a four.
Dhoni brings up his 50 off 58 balls after smashing Neesham to the ropes.
Dhoni and Jadeja revive India with a 50-run partnership off 55 balls.
India's 200 comes up with Jadeja clobbering Bennett over his head for a six.
Jadeja starts to throw his bat around, hits Williamson for a six.
Ashwin plays an ambitious shot and holes out to Bennett at third man as drinks come on the field.
Ravichandran Ashwin c Bennett b Southee 5 (3b 1x4 0x6) SR: 166.66
After looking so good and set for a big score Rohit Sharma falls to a soft dismissal caught down leg side by Ronchi to give Kane his first wicket.
Rohit Sharma c †Ronchi b Williamson 79 (94b 6x4 4x6) SR: 84.04
Rohit shows his class here as he stands tall to pull Southee for a six over cover and then glides one down slips for four.
Dhoni treats Kane Williamson's very first ball with disdain hitting him for a massive six.
Rayudu tries to up the tempo and in doing so steps out to Bennett but top-edges one high into the gloves off Ronchi.
Ambati Rayudu c Ronchi b Bennett 37 (58b 3x4 2x6) SR: 63.79
India get to 100 after Rayudu whacks Nathan for a six over mid-wicket.
Rohit, dropped by Taylor when on 14, brings up his fifty as he charges down to hoist Neesham over mid-off for a huge six.
A 50-partnership by Rohit and Rayudu steadies India's innings
Rayudu steps out and spanks Nathan McCullum for a six. Rohit gets an edge and the ball runs for four as 11 runs come off 21st over.
At the first drinks break India are struggling with the Kiwi bowlers maintaining a tight line and length.
Rayudu gets after Bennett hitting him for two boundaries.
A slapshot from Rohit off Hamish Bennett goes for a six through mid-wicket.
Rahane not looking comfortable tries to hook a short ball from Mills and hands Southee an easy catch at long leg.
Ajinkya Rahane c Southee b Mills 3 (8b 0x4 0x6) SR: 37.50
Rohit is dropped by Ross Taylor. Looked like a regulation catch at first slip. Southee is disappointed.
Rohit starts living dangerously, hitting Mills over the in-field, survives on the first occasion as Brendon misjudjed it but the next clears the field for a six.
Dhoni's ploy of opening with Kohli backfires as he goes early trying to pull Southee and top-edges it to Neesham at mid-wicket.
Virat Kohli c Neesham b Southee 2 (10b 0x4 0x6) SR: 20.00
Rohit survives a loud appeal for LBW against Mills in the first over.
Virat Kohli will open the batting with Rohit Sharma.
India: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni* (w-k), Ravindra Jadeja, Stuart Binny, Ravindran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Varun Aaron, Mohammed Shami.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum*, Hamish Bennett, Martin Guptill, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (w-k), Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson.
India are confident they can win their two remaining one-day internationals in New Zealand to salvage a draw from a series they were expected to dominate.
Although a series win is out of reach for India, who trail 2-0, spinner Ravi Ashwin said the dramatic tie in the third match in Auckland showed the tide is turning for the tourists, who have slipped to number two in the rankings.
New Zealand were denied a series-clinching victory on Saturday when a late flourish by Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja produced a cliffhanger finish, with India scoring 17 off the last over.
"We were quite disappointed that we didn't shut the game down. We would have loved to win the series, but we kept it open and we can tie it down now," Ashwin said Monday on the eve of the fourth game in Hamilton.
Coming into the series, India held the number one ranking and they were strongly favoured to beat the home side.
Instead, they extended a losing streak that began with back-to-back defeats in South Africa, losing their first game in New Zealand by 24 runs and the second by 15.
In Auckland, India again looked down and out when they were 184-6 chasing New Zealand's 314.
But Ashwin (65 off 46 balls) and Jadeja (66 not out off 45) put on 85 for the seventh wicket in a partnership that revived India's hopes.
"We've just not been at the best of our game. That's the best point we can take forward, in terms of saying, we've not really played our best game yet," Ashwin said.
"We've been fighting hard to the end and while things haven't gone our way we just hope for the turnaround."
New Zealand have been plagued in recent years by an inability to close out series when they have had the upper hand early on, but felt the tide had turned when they beat the West Indies in two Twenty20 matches before India's arrival.
However, the nagging doubts returned in Auckland when captain Brendon McCullum admitted it was "potentially" one that got away.
"When they looked as if they were out of the game they flexed their muscle a little bit and got themselves back into it. And just when we thought we had it again, obviously they came back," McCullum said.
"We had our chances, there is no doubting that. Definitely had our chances. A few catches and a few run-out opportunities and a few things."
The final match in the series is in Wellington on Friday, to be followed by two Tests.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.