Christchurch: Sachin Tendulkar scored his first ever century in New Zealand soil that steered India to a an almost unassailable total of 392-4 at the end of their 50 overs in the third one-day international against New Zealand at the AMI Stadium on Sunday.
Tendulkar, when unbeaten on 163, pulled a muscle and decided to retire hurt. He had the opportunity of bettering his previous highest one-day score of 186 not out but his innings was cut short due to the niggle. Sachin's superb knock came off 133 balls and was studded with 5 sixes and 16 fours.
Yuvraj Sing (87), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (68) and some late firework by Suresh Raina (38) also contributed to India's huge score.
India lost Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir cheaply but their innings did not lack momentum for Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh hit breezy half-centuries to steer them to 159 for 2 at the half-way stage in Christchurch.
Yuvraj's 87-run knock came off 60 balls and was studded with 6 sixes and 10 fours. Tendulkar and Yuvraj added 138 runs for the third wicket with the century stand coming off just 75 balls and with a flurry of boundaries the pair hit 69 runs in the batting powerplay.
Captain Dhoni, who had come to replace the merciless Yuvraj, went on to score a half century too (68 off 58) and also put up a hundred run stand for the fourth wicket with Sachin which meant, Tendulkar, in this game, has been involved in one fifty run partnership and two century stands.
Soon after, Grant Eliott provided New Zealand with some breathing space when he had the swaggering Yuvraj caught behind the wickets by McGlashan for 87 runs that came off just 59 deliveries.
He had taken India"s total past the 200 run mark along with the elegant and equally destructive looking Tendulkar in no time after Gambhir"s departure. The duo also put up a hundred run stand for the third wicket. He had also put up a fifty run stand for the second wicket with Gautam Gambhir (15).
The Black Caps were completely in the game when they had bagged two early wickets of Sehwag and Gambhir. Gambhir was caught behind by keeper McGlashan when he edged an away going delivery by Ian Butler while Sehwag"s middle stump was uprooted by Kyle Mills for 3.
New Zealand"s stand-in captain Brendon McCullum had won the toss and decided to put India into bat in the third ODI of the series. This is McCullum"s first match as captain.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said that the loss of the toss did not matter much as he would have decided to bat first in any case.
The big news, however, was that Daniel Vettori had made himself unavailable for the match as he had to be with his wife who is expecting their first child. Jeetan Patel was included in the squad as the captain"s replacement. This might just give the Indians an edge but nothing can be taken for granted, at least on a ground where the Kiwis have won 8 out of the last 10 they have played here.
The Black Caps made another change in the form of Tim Southee who came in for Ian O"Brien while India fielded an unchanged squad which means Ishant Sharma is still not fit.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum(c), Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Jacob Oram, Peter McGlashan(w), Ian Butler, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Jeetan Patel
India: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni(w/c), Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel