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Gambhir's ton sets up easy 8-wicket win

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Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 21:48 [IST]
 
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Gambhir's ton sets up easy 8-wicket win

Chasing a target of 259, India cruised to an easy 8-wicket win in 43.1 overs with substantial innings from Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and captain Gautam Gambhir whose unbeaten 138 which came off 116 balls and punctuated with 18 fours, held the innings together.

In its reply, India got off to a slightly circumspect start due to the fact that New Zealand decided to open with a spinner in Nathan McCullum. But soon enough, the opening duo of Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay found their groove. Gambhir hit a four each in the 4th and 5th over and then in the 6th, sent Kyle Mills for two boundaries, one coming off an inner edge. In the 8th over, Gambhir again went after Mills, smacking him for two more fours. India moved past 50 in the 10th over and by the 13th, Gambhir had brought up his 50 off just 44 balls.

In the 17th over, New Zealand eventually got the breakthrough with captain Daniel Vettori bowling Vijay for 33. But the batsman had played his part, setting up a solid foundation for Gambhir and the new man at the crease, Kohli, to press on. The duo took India to 126/1 at the halfway stage and the chances of New Zealand getting back into the game were looking progressively bleak.

Kohli then got stuck into Tim Southee, sending him for two consecutive fours in the 29th over. With those shots India had moved past 150. In a few overs time, Kohli brought up his half century with a four off Kyle Mills. The innings had come off 63 balls and was studded with 6 fours.

That landmark was followed by another bigger one: Gambhir's century, which came in the 37th over off a four. It had taken him just 90 deliveries and was punctuated with 13 fours. Kohli got McKay away for two more fours in the same over, before he was caught at mid-off and was out for 64 off 73 balls.

But with Yuvraj Singh at the other end, Gambhir was in a hurry to finish off the match. He took McKay for 17 runs in the 39th over, including three consecutive fours. Gambhir, at this stage, was just toying with the bowling, cutting Southee for a boundary in the next over. The winnings runs came courtesy three wides in the 44th over and India had romped home by 8 wickets.

Earlier in the day, the Kiwis got off to an unsteady start. Though, Martin Guptill got Ashish Nehra away for two fours in the first over itself, the tourists lost the other opener Jamie How, for 5 runs with 14 runs on the board. Sreesanth accounted for his wicket by getting him caught behind. Then Kane Williamson joined Guptill and set about the task of rebuilding, before Munaf Patel removed Williamson for a watchful 29 and the Kiwis were 64/2 in 16/1 overs.

Ross Taylor tried to up the scoring rate, but didn't last long and perished to Yusuf Pathan for 15 with the Kiwis further in trouble at 96/3 in the 25th over. Then Guptill and Styris put on a substantial partnership. But with the score 161/4 in 36.4 overs, Guptill was caught behind off Ashwin for a hard-fought 70 off 102 balls. With captain Vettori the new at the crease, the run-rate picked up considerably and the batting pair took New Zealand to over 200 in the 42nd over.

Sreesanth came back to remove Styris for a 56-ball 59 and then Vettori who had made 31 off 32 balls, in successive deliveries, pegging the Kiwis back to 219/6 in 45.2 overs. But wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins and Nathan McCullum kept up the momentum and with a few biffs from Kyle Mills later, the Kiwis ended up with a total of 258/8. Sreesanth took 4 wickets, but went for 47 runs in his 9 overs. Also, Yuvraj Singh and R Ashwin had dropped a couple of catches at crucial junctures in the match.

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