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Gambhir's century takes India to easy win

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Postby Pankaj » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:45 pm

A breezy unbeaten 138 from skipper Gautam Gambhir and his second-wicket stand of 116 with Virat Kohli took India to an eight-wicket win over New Zealand at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Wednesday. India reached its target of 259 with seven overs to spare.

After being sent in by Gambhir, the New Zealand innings saw three pairs post 50 partnerships, but the biggest was only worth 65. This, and a late burst of wickets from Sreesanth, who finished with four for 47, prevented the Kiwis from setting India a truly challenging target.

Wary of the effect the dew might have on the spinners deeper into India's chase, Vettori threw the new ball to offie Nathan McCullum.

He gave away just three from his first two overs before Gambhir stepped out and split the cover-mid-off gap. The left-hander's feet were moving smoothly, his right leg thrusting fully at anything full and wide. He brought up India's 50 with a clip off his legs for four off left-armer Andy McKay, and his own with a double to fine-leg off Scott Styris.

Unusually scratchy

At the other end, an unusually scratchy Murali Vijay survived two leg before shouts from Vettori off two balls, the first going with the arm and possibly sliding down leg, the second striking him off the inside edge. An over later, the left-arm spinner had his man, bowled missing a slog sweep off a too-full delivery.

Vettori kept the field in for Kohli, not the wisest idea considering he'd made hundreds in his last two ODI innings. The landmarks came one after the other. Kohli brought up his 50 with a hook off Southee that beat fine-leg haring to his left. A single off McCullum brought up the 100 stand. Gambhir jabbed McKay over mid-wicket to reach his eighth ODI hundred.

His previous century, at Eden Gardens against Sri Lanka last year, was also composed in Kohli's company.

Kohli spanked McKay down the ground, whipped him between mid-wicket and mid-on, and then — probably finding batting a little too easy — pulled him straight to short mid-wicket.

He didn't reach his third straight hundred, but this innings was possibly even better, for its imperious ease of strokeplay, than the 105 at Guwahati.

Yuvraj Singh got off the mark with his 50th ODI six on Indian soil, a typically flourishing swat over mid-wicket off McCullum. Gambhir flashed McKay for three consecutive fours past a hapless point.

The batsmen tore chunks off the target with authoritative strokeplay. With three required, Southee delivered a leg-side wide which Hopkins didn't gather properly, allowing the batsmen to complete two and put India 2-0 up.

Earlier, Gambhir chose to let his unchanged attack bowl before the onset of dew. New Zealand made two changes from Guwahati, Grant Elliott and the injured Daryl Tuffey making way for Tim Southee and skipper Daniel Vettori.

Brisk start

Martin Guptill rattled the boundary boards off the first and third balls of the innings, glancing Ashish Nehra off his hips and driving him past cover. Jamie How also got four from his first ball, cracking a wide one from Sreesanth in front of point. In his second over, Sreesanth got one to leave How late and kiss his edge through to the 'keeper.

Kane Williamson walked in and kicked on straightaway with three leg-side boundaries in two Nehra overs.

Munaf Patel replaced the left-armer, and immediately stemmed the run flow with his metronomic back-of-a-length, with the odd ball dipping in.

With Ashwin ensuring no let-up of pressure from the other end, the scoring rate dropped under four.

Guptill reached 50 with a leg-side single off Yuvraj. Till that point, he had struck only three fours off 82 deliveries, and celebrated the milestone by swinging Yusuf Pathan over cow corner for six.

But yet again, a wicket stalled New Zealand just when the innings seemed to pick up momentum. Ashwin went around the wicket to Guptill and found his edge with the carrom ball.

Styris reached 50 with a flicked single off Ashwin, reaching the mark off 49 balls. A single to Vettori in the same over brought up New Zealand's 200 and 2,000 ODI runs for the skipper. Then Sreesanth came back in the 46th over and dismissed Styris and Vettori off two balls.
Pankaj Sharma
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