Black Caps 260-7
- Guptill 72, Williamson 41
India 241 out all
- Rahane 57, Southee 3-40
Black Caps win by 19 runs
Captain Kane Williamson won his first coin toss on this Indian tour and New Zealand responded with a 19-run victory to level the series 2-2 heading to a decider and potential uncharted territory in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
No New Zealand side has won a bilateral ODI series in India in four attempts beginning in 1988-89.
A 10th wicket stand of 34 between Umesh Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni ended when Yadav spooned a catch to Ross Taylor at extra cover from Trent Boult, leaving eight balls spare.
The visitors stacked their attack with three spinners in Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Anton Devcich. Each contributed to the cause, but the guile of Tim Southee and Jimmy Neesham won the game after the New Zealanders posted 260-7 on a dry surface.
In a 31-ball period, from 128-2 in the 28th over to 154-6 in the 33rd, India lost direction courtesy of Southee's slower ball and Neesham's nagging accuracy amid variable bounce.
Neesham got in the first one-two punch. He trapped Ajinkya Rahane lbw when the opener walked in front of his stumps on 57. Then, as the required run rate hit a run-a-ball, he silenced the crowd by flooring the leg stump of local hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 11. Neesham presented a proud seam which skidded rather than carried.
Williamson's decision to recall Southee in the 31st over proved prescient. The right-armer took the consecutive wickets of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav by taking the pace off the ball in his next over.
Southee finished with figures of 9-0-40-3 and Neesham 6-0-38-2.
Listen: Martin Guptill on the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast
New Zealand's fielding possessed customary verve to keep the pressure on for the most part. It was highlighted by Tom Latham maximising his height to remove Pandey at mid-on, and Mitchell Santner running out Amit Mishra as a 38-run eighth-wicket stand developed with Axar Patel (38).
Earlier Southee drew Sharma into edging behind and Sodhi claimed the key wicket of Virat Kohli for 45 from 51 balls when a tempting short-and-wide delivery was nicked into B-J Watling's gloves.
New Zealand's volume of runs was initially debatable. Openers Latham and Martin Guptill put on 96 at better than a run-a-ball, including the addition of 80 in the first 10-over powerplay. Latham with 39 from 40 balls was first to go, sweeping Patel to Rahane at short fine leg.
The innings further cemented his claim on the opening spot sans Brendon McCullum with his previous scores of 79 not out, 46 and 61 in the series.
Guptill also found form with 72 from 84 balls. Clumsy clonks morphed into crisp striking as he settled. He was dropped on 29 slogging an Yadav slower ball to Mishra at mid-on. On 63, he scooped spinner Jadhav towards the long off boundary where Mishra was a recidivist, moving too far in as the ball cleared his head for four. He mitigated those failings as the best of the bowlers with two for 42.
The innings again hinged on Williamson's dismissal, a symptom New Zealand must eradicate by the home summer. At 184-2 in the 36th over, the visitors were in command with the perfect platform. The skipper then edged Mishra behind on 41 off 59 balls, and dreams of setting a target of 300 went kaput.
Admittedly, the bounce in the wicket appeared to dissipate as the match wore on. The New Zealanders enjoyed the best of the batting conditions, irrespective of evening dew.
No one appeared capable of getting traction and, in the absence of Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi and Matt Henry, their power hitting was compromised. Watling (14 off 21 balls) received his first call-up into coloured clothing since February 2013.
Ronchi's omission could be an omen for the summer ahead. Since his No.7 world record 170 not out against Sri Lanka in January 2015 he has had 28 ODI innings without passing 50, he has exceeded 20 four times and has been dismissed for less than 10 on 18 occasions. Strike rate was always his priority but, regardless, the return has been lean.
India winched their way back into the contest, taking five wickets for 76 and restricting New Zealand to four boundaries in the last 15 overs.
Taylor struggled for momentum with 35 from 58 balls before getting run out. No-one else advanced the score significantly at the death.