Wed, 16 Feb 2011 22:45:23 GMT

India crush New Zealand in final warm-up match

Chennai: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni led a solid batting display with an explosive unbeaten century to set up a crushing 117-run victory over New Zealand in a lop-sided warm-up game ahead of the Cricket World Cup here.

India crush New Zealand in final warm-up match

Dhoni smashed a 64-ball 108 not out and Gautam Gambhir contributed a classy 89 as India first scored an imposing 360 for five after electing to bat and then shot out New Zealand for 243 in 43.1 overs to notch up their second World Cup warm-up victory on the trot.

Chasing an imposing 361 to win, New Zealand batsmen wilted under pressure as Indian spinners took centrestage on a helpful pitch at the M A Chidambaram Stadium to maintain a clean slate ahead of their World Cup opener against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Needing to score at a stiff rate of 7.20 runs an over, it was always a tough task for the team playing second and expectedly Indian slow bowlers extracted turn and bounce from the pitch as the Kiwis surrendered without much fight.

Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj Singh broke the back of the Kiwi batting, taking two wickets apiece while Ravichandran Ashwin also had a satisfying outing with 1/31, having provided the initial breakthrough by dismissing opener Martin Guptill.

Ashish Nehra, who went without wicket in his initial spell, took the last two wickets. Barring the openers -- Brendon McCullum (58 off 54 balls) and and Guptill (38 off 45 balls) -- who negotiated the Indian new ball bowlers well, all other batsmen, including Ross Taylor, who captained the Kiwis, Jesse Rider and Scott Styris failed to deliver.

Except for the opening stand of 94 from 15 overs, the Kiwis could not put up any more substantial partnerships as Dhoni rotated Harbhajan, Ashwin, Yuvraj and Chawla. Both Chawla and Ashwin bowled a tight line and Dhoni continued with them for long spells, perhaps to assess the right one for the second spinner's slot for the tournament proper. Harbhajan, who bowled four overs on the trot, was in his usual self.

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