India paid the price for some poor shot selection as New Zealand clinched the fourth cricket ODI by 19 runs to level five-match series 2-2 in Ranchi on Wednesday.
Chasing a target of 281 on a slowish track, India were on course at 128 for 2 before a sudden middle-order collapse saw them lose four quick wickets as they were finally all-out for 241 in 48.4 overs.
This was India's first loss at skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's home ground in all the international matches that they have played so far.
India's No 1 batsman Virat Kohli (45) and opener Ajinkya Rahane (57) added 79 runs for the second wicket while skipper Dhoni disappointed the local fans managing a sedate 11 off 31 balls before Jimmy Neesham cleaned him up.
It was Rahane's leg before off Neesham that triggered a collapse with Dhoni following the suit. Tim Southee then dealt a telling blow by removing Manish Pandey (12) and Kedar Jadhav (0) off successive deliveries -- both out to poor choice of shots. From 128/2, India slumped to 154/6 in just five overs and it became the turning point of the match.
Hardik Pandya's (9) inexperience also showed as he tried to hit an inside out lofted shot despite a fielder being placed at the extra cover boundary.
Axar Patel (38) and Dhawal Kulkarni (25) did try but that was never going to be enough for the 'Men In Blue'.
Southee (3/48) and Boult (2/40) were again on the money, so was Neesham (2/38) donning the third seamer's role to perfection.
Locked 2-2, the final one-dayer in Visakhapatnam October 29 will determine the winner of the five-match series.
Practically-speaking, the chase was as good as over for the Kohli-dependent India but the crowd did not mind anticipating a Dhoni special in his possible last appearance.
Amid chants of 'Dhoni, Dhoni' reverberating the stands, the Indian skipper made an entry with his casual gait and he took his time waiting for the perfect ball to flourish.
But the nature of the pitch let down Dhoni on more than one occasions as he had some mishits and survived on till he completely missed the line to be bowled by Neesham.
Earlier, Martin Guptill struck a fluent half-century but New Zealand failed to seize the momentum as Indian spinners did well to restrict them to a modest 260 for 7.
Opting to bat, New Zealand were off to their best start on the tour with Guptill slamming an 84-ball-72 studded with 12 boundaries.
Guptill looked in full flow and completed his 31st ODI fifty from 56 balls but Hardik Pandya ended the threat inducing a thin edge of the Kiwi opener midway into their innings.
With 184/2 after 35 overs and a set Kane Williamson in the middle, New Zealand were still in sight of 300. But Amit Mishra (2/41) took the crucial wickets of Williamson (41 from 59 balls; 4x4) and James Neesham (6) in successive overs to derail the visitors gameplan.
Kiwi skipper Williamson not only read the coin rightly for the first time in the series after three Tests and three ODIs, but he also read the pitch perfectly and opted to bat on a slow pitch with variable bounce.