Queenstown: Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami’s impressive three-wicket haul was the only bright spot as India yet again failed to defend an imposing total with hosts New Zealand notching up a series-clinching three-wicket victory in the third ODI here on Friday.

It was Goswami yet again who led the bowling pack, after sitting out of the second ODI. She accounted for the three New Zealand wickets at the top to rock the home side’s run chase of 280.

India seemed to be cruising to their first win of the tour when they reduced New Zealand to 171 for 6 in the 35th over but in the end they could not do so as Lauren Down (65 not out) took the hosts home with five balls to spare.

This was the second highest run chase in women’s ODI cricket history.

New Zealand needed 105 runs from the last 15 overs and 64 from 10 with four wickets in hand and the Indians failed to polish off the home side’s lower order.

Down and Katey Martin (35) made life difficult for the Indian bowlers with a 76-run stand for the seventh wicket.

New Zealand needed 18 runs from the final two overs and Goswami conceded 12 in the penultimate over before Down, who was dropped on 10, hit a six in the first ball of the final over bowled by Deepti Sharma to reach 280 for 7 and win the match.

India had lost the first two ODIs by 62 runs and three wickets, respectively, after suffering a 18-run defeat in the lone T20I.

The 39-year-old Goswami struck in the third ball of New Zealand run chase by removing captain Sophie Devine for a duck before clean-bowling Suzie Bates (5) to leave the hosts at 14 for 2 in 2.3 overs.

She then returned to break a dangerous-looking partnership between Amy Satterthwaite (59) and Amelia Kerr (67) by dismissing the former in the 24th over.

Satterthwaite and Kerr had revived the New Zealand innings with a third-wicket stand of 103 runs.

After Kerr — who had hit a match-winning 119 not out in the second game — was out in the 31st over, New Zealand lost three quick wickets for just 19 runs to be reduced to 171 for 6 in the 35th over.

Earlier, India rode on half centuries from Sabbhineni Meghana, Shafali Verma and Deepti Sharma to post 279 — their highest total against New Zealand — after being asked to bat.

Young openers Meghana (61) and Verma (51) gave India a flying start with a stand of 100 in 13 overs, but the visitors lost wickets at regular intervals later to be all out for 279 in 49.3 overs.

Star opener Smriti Mandhana once again missed the match — her fourth game of the tour, including the lone T20I — as she came out of quarantine on Tuesday.

Meghana was in sensational form as she consumed just 41 balls for her 61 and struck nine fours and two sixes. Verma had seven fours in her 57-ball knock.

Vice-captain Harmenpreet Kaur’s wretched form continued as she made just 13 off 22 balls to add to her identical 10 runs each in the first two ODIs.

Yastika Bhatia (19) and captain Mithali Raj (23), who scored back-to-back half centuries, were also unable to contribute much but Deepti Sharma rose to the occasion with a brilliant run-a-ball 69 not out down the order to take India’s score past 275 mark.

Sharma struck seven fours and one six.

New Zealand used as many as seven bowlers with Hannah Rowe and Rosemary Mair picking two wickets apiece.

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