India had New Zealand on he ropes at 106/7 in the 30th over with Zaheer Khan, R Aswhin and Yusuf Pathan each taking two wickets, before Kiwi latter-order batsmen James Franklin and Nathan McCullum staged a 94-run revival as the tourists ended their innings at 210 in fifty overs.
Zaheer, who is making a comeback after being out of contention due to a groin injury, made a dream start. He got another returning player Brendon McCullum, out for a golden duck in his first over itself. The fatal ball was an out-swinger which picked up an edge through to Murali Vijay at second slip.
Realising that the run-rate was already flagging in the fourth over, Guptill tried to shift gears by lofting Khan for a huge six. But just two balls later, nerves got to him and he was run out thanks to a sharp throw from Gambhir at mid on. New Zealand were in trouble at 19/2.
The new batsman Ross Taylor tried to revive the innings with Kane Williamson but they were both very slow mainly as a result of some tight bowling from Ashish Nehra and Zaheer. Finally Zaheer brought Taylor's misery to an end, getting him caught behind for 4 off 16 balls. The Kiwis were under immense pressure at 34/3 in 10.5 overs with Scott Styris surviving an lbw appeal in the next ball.
Williamson got a reprieve in the 15th over when some appalling fielding from Nehra and Ravindra Jadeja enabled him to make his ground while also picking up 5 overthrows. But that respite was short-lived for in the very next over, Munaf Patel got the batsman lbw for 21 off 50 balls. New Zealand were tottering at 49/4 in 15.2 overs. There was more trouble in store for the Kiwis as R Ashwin joined the party to take the wicket of Styris for 22 off 35 balls. The Black Caps middle order was in a process of collapse at 77/5 in 23 overs.
The Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori was the next to go when Yusuf Pathan got him caught by Yuvraj Singh at slip for 3 runs off 7 balls. The Indian onsalught continued with Yusuf striking again a couple of overs later to remove Hopkins for 6 off 6 balls. New Zealand were looking at the bottom of the barrel at 106/7 in 29.3 overs.
In that abysmal situation, Franklin and Nathan McCullum demonstrated some gumption to pull New Zealand out of the fire. McCullum initially took a few risks while Franklin kept up his end cautiously. Thwe duo took their side to over the 150-mark in the 39th over and pressed ahead.
Franklin and McCullum were doing and admirable job at clawing back into the match, keeping the pressure off by accumulating the one and twos and taking teh occasional boundary when the opportunity presented itself. The innings was assuming a gradula crescendo as in the 47th over, Franklin went after Jadeja, the weak link in the Indian side, smacking him for a huge six and then a four.
But McCullum's time in the middle came to an end in the next over when Ashwin had him caught by Gambhir at extra cover for a fighting 43 off 53 balls. The Mills effected a late surge whenm he hti Khan for a six in teh penultimate over. The batsmen scurried a few more runs and hit a four in the last over, taking New Zealand to 223/8 at the end of the innings.
Nehra got Mills out for a quickfire 15 off 9 balls with the last ball. Nevertheless, he and Franklin with McCullum along the way, had managed to get their side a respectable total, given that it once looked like the tourists would be bundled out for a little over 100!
Now India will have to bat sensibly because they have all the talent and the form to romp home easily and take the series 3-0 with a win here at Vadodara. But India will need a good foundation once more from Murali Vijay and Gautam Gambhir to build on and the middle-order will need to come to the fore.