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Jadeja snatches tie for India in 3rd ODI vs. New Zealand

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Ravindra Jadeja smashed 15 runs from the last over to complete an unbeaten 66 as India snatched a thrilling tie with New Zealand in the third one-day cricket international on Saturday, keeping alive the five-match series which New Zealand leads 2-0.

India came to the last over with only one wicket in hand, needing 18 runs to overtake New Zealand's 50-over total of 314 which was made possible by an innings of 111 from opener Martin Guptill.

Jadeja reached the final over at 51 not out, having posted his first half century in one-day internationals, and had been given the strike by his last-wicket partner Varun Aaron.

He smashed two fours and a six while Corey Anderson for New Zealand delivered two wides, then took a single from the last ball to leave the scores tied.

New Zealand seemed to have the match in its control when it first reduced India to 79-4, then, after captain MS Dhoni made 50 and Ravichandran Ashwin 65, had them 286-9 with 2.1 overs remaining.

It seemed all that was needed was a sound bowling and fielding performance over the last couple of overs to ensure New Zealand took a winning 3-0 lead in the five match series; a rare series win over World Cup champions India.

But Jadeja, who had put on 85 runs in a critical partnership with Ashwin for the seventh wicket, showed a steely nerve to steer India steadily toward a winning total. He helped his team take 11 runs from the 49th over and, playing his luck after being dropped on the boundary with nine balls remaining, hit his team to the brink of an incredible victory.

He smashed the first ball of the last over for four, accepted a wide next ball which added a run and a ball to India's total, then failed to score off the next two deliveries.

He cleverly stepped inside the next ball from Corey Anderson to accrue another wide, to give himself another ball and one less run to carry India to its target.

Jadeja smashed a four to fine leg and a six down the ground the leave India needing two runs from the last ball as it searched for its first win of the series. But the last ball from Anderson was full and all he could do was to steer it to mid off for a single to leave the scores tied.

"I'm feeling very happy because I did something for my team," Jadeja said. "I was just looking to play each ball as it came.

"Me and Ashwin (65) were playing and talking, saying that we just have to play to the last ball. Unfortunately we didn't cross the line. But we learned a lot from the match and we will just try again next match."

India's pursuit of New Zealand's total of 314, made in exactly 50 overs, was fraught at times. They were 79-4 in the 18th over, having lost their first four batsman, and they seemed to have lost their way before Dhoni revived their innings with his 53rd half century in one day internationals, his second of the series.

Ashwin and Jadeja pushed India closer to what still seemed an unattainable total and finally Jadeja, who took his 66 runs from 45 balls with five fours and four sixes, guided them to a tie.

"I think we batted well," Dhoni said. "But if you're supposed to pick situations where we could have closed the game quite comprehensively, those were the situations we didn't grab.

"There were a few of our batsmen who could have done that. That's a bit disappointing but overall it was a good result, the reason being it keeps us alive in the series. We can't win it but still we can go for a draw."

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was surprisingly upbeat after a game his team should have won. He made the unusual decision to award Anderson the last over and the young all rounder showed he was not up to the task by bowling an assortment of wides, half volleys and short-pitched balls.

"I thought it was an outstanding game of cricket," McCullum said. "India showed why they are one of the powerhouses of one-day cricket.

"We got what we thought was a pretty good score, batting first after being asked to bat first and for much of the second innings we were in control of the game. But they batted exceptionally well to get as close as they did and we had a few opportunities at the end which we didn't take."

Guptill overcame an early struggle for runs to reach 111 after New Zealand had been sent in to bat, his century coming from 123 balls.

He shared a record 153-run partnership with Kane Williamson (65) for the second wicket which ensured New Zealand reached a competitive total, thought its batting effort waxed and waned.

The partnership between Guptill and Williamson was a second-wicket record for New Zealand against India, eclipsing the 138 run stand set by Nathan Astle and Stephen Fleming 12 years ago.

Luke Ronchi made 38 and Tim Southee 27 not out to add late substance to New Zealand's total.

Anderson took 5-63 to disrupt India's reply though his effort was let down by his final over.

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