Trent Boult lit up Seddon Park in Hamilton with a bowling spell for the ages. Delivering 10 overs on the trot, the left-arm seamer went on to pick 5 for 21.
The tourists were skittled for 92 with 19.1 overs to spare — their lowest total in nine years — before the Black Caps chased down the modest total to triumph at 93 for two with 35.2 overs to spare in a eight-wicket win. The series now stands at 3-1 in favour of India.
No opponent has ever defeated India with so many balls remaining in their innings and India has only scored as badly on six other occasions.
With the series already won, captain Virat Kohli sat out the dead-rubber fixture and MS Dhoni was sidelined with a hamstring strain.
While Boult and the rest of the New Zealand attack benefited from humid conditions that allowed them to produce swing for the first time in the series, Sharma said that was no excuse.
“We never expected something like this but sometimes these games can happen,” he said.
Sharma said the pitch remained “a great wicket to bat on” but his batsman had failed to apply themselves because they had already won the series.
He warned such an attitude could cost the second-ranked ODI team dearly at the World Cup starting in England in May.
“Just because we’ve won the series doesn’t mean we can relax,” he said. “We’ve got this big prize ahead of us and we’ve got to keep ticking the boxes. The good teams do that.
“At times you need to grind it out and absorb the pressure but we failed to do that today and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
Brief Scores: India 92 in 30.5 overs (Chahal 18; Boult 5-21, de Grandhomme 3-26) lost to New Zealand 93/2 in 14.4 overs (Taylor 37*, Nicholls 30*; Kumar 2-25) by 8 wickets