India spank New Zealand, romp into final
India relied on Virender Sehwag's swashbuckling century and an inspired show of swing bowling to spank New Zealand by 105 runs and cruise into the final of the cricket tri-series at Dambulla on Wednesday.
While the flamboyant Sehwag (110) notched up his 13th ODI century to steer India to a competitive 223 after four early jolts, the pace bowlers than came up with fine exhibition of swing and control to skittle out the Kiwis for 118 in 30.1 overs.
During the course of the innings, Sehwag became the seventh batsmen in ODIs to hit 1000 boundaries.
The record of hitting the most number of boundaries in ODIs is held by Sachin Tendulkar who has 1927 boundaries.
Image: India's Virender Sehwag raises his bat and helmet to celebrate scoring his century against New Zealand
Southee impressed with the ball
Tim Southee (4 for 49) was the pick of the Kiwis bowlers though he was a trifle expensive.
Kyle Mills (2 for 42) was also very effective.
The Indian innings began on a disastrous note with Dinesh Karthik, who has been in woeful form right through the series, returning to the pavilion in the very first over off Kyle Mills.
It was a horrendous shot from the Indian opener as he poked at a length delivery outside the off stump, edging it to wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins behind the stump.
He paid the price for fishing out even without getting his eye in.
Virat Kohli, who replaced Rohit Sharma in the team, joined the action after Karthik's dismissal but could not survive long, being at the receiving end of a dubious decision.
Kohli (8) looked stunned when Sri Lankan umpire Ashoka de Silva gave him out when he edged an outgoing delivery off Tim Southee to wicketkeeper Hopkins.
Television replays picked up some noise and the snickometer showed there was a slight nick.
Image: New Zealand's Tim Southee (R) appeals successfully for the wicket of India's Virat Kohli
Dhoni played a good supporting role
Barring Sehwag, none of the other Indian batsmen could really get going though captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38) played a good supporting role.
Despite the early losses, Sehwag showed his customary flamboyance as he unleashed a flurry of strokes and scored the runs at a brisk pace.
The Indians suffered a big jolt when Yuvraj Singh (6) also perished in the 12th over to a poor shot with Andy McKay being the wicket-taker.
It was then Suresh Raina's turn to return to the pavilion and the Indians found themselves in the doldrums at a precarious 66 for four by the 13th over.
Dhoni and Sehwag tried to steady the innings by playing cautiously and punishing only the loose deliveries.
Both gradually accelerated the pace of scoring after getting a feel of the conditions and the measure of the rather spongy track at the Rangiri International stadium.
Image: India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (R) plays a shot as New Zealand's wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins
Nathan McCullum took three wickets
Spinner Nathan McCullum brought an end to the 107-run fifth wicket partnership by evicting the dangerous Sehwag soon after he completed his century, much to the relief of his teammates.
Sehwag holed out at deep midwicket as a tried to pick McCullum's flighted delivery from outside off and swung it straight to the fielder. His knock of 110 came off just 93 ball and was laced with 16 boundaries and a six.
Ravindra Jadeja (17) fell immediately after Dhoni's departure and Ashish Nehra did not survive long either, hastening the end of the Indian innings.
Flummoxed by bounce off a Southee delivery, Jadeja handed an easy catch to Ross Taylor while Nehra's was a soft caught and bowled dismissal of Nathan McCullum.
Image: New Zealand's Nathan McCullum celebrates with teammate Gareth Hopkins (R) as captain Ross Taylor looks on
Indian bowlers were equally impressive
However, New Zealand's innings began on a disastrous note with Praveen Kumar trapping Martin Guptill (0) leg ball in the first over.
Ashish Nehra also struck in the fourth over cleaning up B Walting (2) in the fourth over before Kumar came back to take two more wickets.
He first had kiwi skipper Ross Taylor caught by Dhoni and then cleaned up Scott Styris (1) to hasten New Zealand's downfall.
Ishant Sharma cleaned up Kane Williamson (13) while Munaf Patel trapped Gareth Hopkins (0) leg before to ensure the end of any hopes of a New Zealand comeback.
The Black Caps were reduced to 51 for six in the 20th over and the result became all the more obvious.
Image: -India's players celebrate the dismissal of New Zealand's captain Ross Taylor