India Seal Final Spot By Beating New Zealand
India 156-4 (Tendulkar 46, Raina 45no) beat
New Zealand 155 (Vettori 25, Nehra 3-21) by six wickets
Tri-Series One-Day International, Colombo
India made light of their lengthy injury list by outplaying New Zealand on their way to a highly impressive six-wicket win that booked their place in the Compaq Cup One-Day International tri-series in Colombo.
They set things up by bowling New Zealand out for 155 before innings of 46 and 45 from Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina completed the match with nine overs and three balls to spare.
The result sets up a final against Sri Lanka on Monday while they also play the hosts tomorrow in what is now a dead rubber.
Left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan was hardly missed as Ashish Nehra, RP Singh and Ishant Sharma shared seven of the New Zealand wickets to fall and left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh returned three for 31.
New Zealand made two changes to their side before winning the toss and choosing to bat but were soon in trouble when openers Jesse Ryder (0) and Brendon McCullum (3) were trapped in front by Nehra and Ross Taylor edged RP Singh to Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 11.
Martin Guptill and Grant Elliot both managed to make 22 runs but the introduction of Yuvraj in the 15th over saw Guptill edge to slip where Rahul Dravid pouched a low catch as if he'd never been away.
Elliott was soon on his way back when he was adjudged to have been caught down the leg-side as Yuvraj struck again. Jacob Oram and Neil Broom, in the side in place of Nathan McCullum, steered the Black Caps past 100 but they could do little more, Oram (24) deceived by a Sharma slower ball, offering a return catch and Broom (21) pulling Yuvraj to Raina, who took a fine catch at midwicket one ball after a drinks break.
That left captain Daniel Vettori (25) with the tail and both he and Kyle Mills (6), a replacement for Daryl Tuffey, were bowled, by Sharma and RP Singh respectively and despite some lusty blows from Shane Bond, unbeaten on ten, New Zealand failed to bat their full 50 overs.
Ian Butler was the last man to go when he spooned Nehra to Harbhajan Singh at cover havnig made six runs.
Run chases under the lights at the RPS do not come around very often but India never really looked in danger of not getting the required runs, despite losing Dinesh Karthik (4) and Yuvraj Singh (8) cheaply.
Karthik was trapped in front by Kyle Mills and Yuvraj slogged Vettori into the air where Guptill took a comfortable catch and although Dravid only managed 14 on his comeback, he played his part by putting on 60 with Tendulkar before Jacob Oram had him trapped in front.
Tendulkar played beautifully for his 46 runs in 55 balls, hitting six fours, two more than any other batsman could manage and like Dravid's slip catch earlier, it was like he had never been away.
He was eventually dismissed when Vettori got one to bounce a little more and he popped another catch to Guptill.
Dhoni does not average over 50 in ODIs by accident and he and Raina then formed the perfect partnership to close out the game - Dhoni frustrating the bowlers with his steadfastness in making 35 not out in 65 balls while Raina pushed on, thumping two sixes over midwicket to finish on 45 in 54 balls.
New Zealand even tried two overs of innocuous off-spin from Guptill to try and get back in the game, but they now return home ahead of the Champions Trophy which begins later this month.
© Cricket World 2009