Dhonis blistering century sets up big India win

Mahendra Singh Dhoni smacked a whirlwind unbeaten 108 to spearhead a strong batting show before the spinners fired collectively to spur India to a massive 117 run victory New Zealand in their second and final World warm-up game at the at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Chennai, February 16, 2011


By CricketCountry Staff

 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni smacked a whirlwind unbeaten 108 to spearhead a strong batting show before the spinners fired collectively to spur India to a massive 117 run victory New Zealand in their second and final World Cup warm-up game at the at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Dhoni’s blistering unbeaten knock of 108, coming off 64 balls, studded with 11 fours and three sixes, provided the massive push at the death as India racked up 360 for 5 off its allotted 50 overs.

 

A target of 361 was always going to be a tough ask and it was assumed that New Zealand’s approach while chasing such a huge target would be a conservative one but openers Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum seemed to have taken a cue from Dhoni’s explosive batting and showed the Indian opening bowlers Ashish Nehra and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth scant respect, creaming them to all parts of the ground.

 

The duo rattled along to 94 in the first fifteen overs and looked poised to have a go at the imposing Indian score before local boy Ravichandran Ashwin brought the Chennai crowd on its feet prising out Guptill with one that turned and bounced.

 

McCullum kept the momentum going together with Jesse Ryder but the latter’s brilliant run out by Suresh Raina dealt a big blow to their hopes. There was a huge sigh of relief in the Indian camp seeing the free-scoring openers back in the pavilion.

 

McCullum’s dismissal sparked a middle-order collapse as the Indian spinners began to assume control over the match. Stand-in-captain Ross Taylor failed to lead from the front flicking a flighted delivery from Harbhajan Singh to Virat Kohi at short mid-wicket for 5.

 

New Zealand innings were soon in disarray when Piyush Chawla trapped James Franklin lbw before Harbhajan further compounded their misery consuming Ryder for 32. The lower-order surrendered meekly as New Zealand were all out for 243 in 43.1 overs.

Earlier, the Indian batsmen justified Dhoni’s decision to bat first, entertaining the boisterous Chennai crowd with sustained strokeplay to raise a formidable score.

 

The left and right handed pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli put the Indian innings on a firm footing raising a century stand for the third wicket that seemed to suck the fight out of the New Zealand
bowlers after Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag fell in quick succession after a 35-run opening stand.

 

In fact, Gambhir, who struck 89 off 85 balls, studded with 11 fours and Kohli who made 59 of 68 balls, punctuated with seven fours set up a near-perfect platform for Dhoni and Raina to wade into the New Zealand attack.

 

The death overs saw some brutal hitting from Dhoni, who brought up his century off just 61 balls. The Indian captain singled out Jacob Oram for special treatment, clobbering him for five consecutive boundaries in the 42nd over before taking three boundaries in the next over off Nathan McCullum to annhilate the New Zealand bowlers.

He was associated in a century partnership with Suresh Raina for the fifth wicket, which witnessed strokemaking of the highest order. Raina was also at his free-flowing best, punishing the New Zealand bowlers, hammering Oram for three sixes in the 44th over to bring up his half-century in 25 balls to cap off a bad day in office for the bowler who finished with figures of 9-1-70-2.

 

India launch their World Cup campaign against Bangladesh at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on February 19.

Brief Scores: India 360 for 5 in 50 overs (Mahendra Singh Dhoni 108, Gautam Gambhir 89, Virat Kohli 59, Suresh Raina 50, Tim Southee 2 for 67, Jacob Oram 2 for 70) bt New Zealand 243 in 43.1 overs (Brendon McCullum 58, Martin Guptill 38, Harbhajan Singh 2 for 17, Yuvraj Singh 2 for 33, Piyush Chawla 2 for 39, Ashish Nehra 2 for 55) by 117 runs.

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