Centurion: India threw Asian neighbours Sri Lanka a World Cup lifeline when it knocked out New Zealand with a seven-wicket romp at SuperSport Park on Friday.[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan took four for 42, including two wickets off consecutive balls in the first over, as India shot out New Zealand for 146 after electing to field in the its Super Sixes match.India was it self reduced to 21 for three in reply before Mohammed Kaif steered his team to victory with an unbeaten 68 following a fourth-wicket stand of 129 with vice-captain Rahul Dravid (53 not out).
New Zealand, which needed a win to join defending champions Australia, India and Kenya in the semi-finals, will take an early flight home unless Zimbabwe upset Sri Lanka in East London on Saturday.A Sri Lankan victory, however, will see Sanath Jayasuriya's men squeeze through to the semi-finals against all odds after losing to Australia and India earlier in the Super Sixes. India's eighth win in nine matches at the World Cup made them clear favourites to defeat surprise qualifiers Kenya in the second semi-final under the Kingsmead lights at Durban next Thursday.Australia, meanwhile, must wait till Saturday evening to know its opponents in the first semi-final at Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. Faced with a must-win situation, the Kiwi bowlers responded to their meagre total in sensational style.
Fiery pace bowler Shane Bond had Virender Sehwag caught superbly in the slips by Scott Styris in his first over and then clean bowled captain Saurav Ganguly in the second.Daryl Tuffey, taking the field for only the second time in a month, struck a major blow when star batsman Sachin Tendulkar was caught at point for 15 after taking three successive boundaries earlier in the over.But as the Indians cruised to victory, the Kiwis were left to rue two missed opportunities. Wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum let slip an edge off Dravid's bat before the batsman had scored, a regulation catch that should have made it 22 for four. Then the usually safe Chris Harris dropped Kaif on six.
As tension mounted on the field, English umpire Peter Willey tried to cool tempers by putting a tape across bowler Craig McMillan's mouth after he had engaged Kaif in a verbal duel.Earlier, Zaheer equalled his One-day best of four for 42 against Zimbabwe at Sharjah two years ago on his way to surpassing the 100-wicket mark in the Limited Overs game.
The left-armer, who removed Craig McMillan and Nathan Astle in his first over, was unlucky not to post career-best figures as umpire Daryl Harper turned down a close appeal for leg before against Daniel Vettori.Zaheer was also restricted to eight overs with Ganguly employing part-timers Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia and himself to share the 10 overs of the fifth bowler.That allowed the Kiwi tail to boost the score as Jacob Oram made 23, Vettori 13 and Tuffey 11. New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was the top scorer with 30 in good batting conditions.Copyright AFP 2001