Dhoni inspires dominant India
Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed a rapid century as India claimed a convincing 117-run victory over New Zealand in both teams' final World Cup warm-up match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
The India captain ensured he will go into Saturday’s tournament opener against Bangladesh full of confidence after hitting 11 fours and three sixes on his way to 108 from just 64 balls to guide the hosts to 360 for five.
Despite Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum’s opening stand of 94, the Black Caps lost wickets at regular intervals from then on and slumped to 243 all out.
After winning the toss and batting first, India openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar both perished inside 10 overs, bowled by Jacob Oram and Tim Southee respectively.
Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli steadied the ship by making 89 and 59 respectively, although Oram and Southee each picked up a second wicket.
Dhoni and Suresh Raina took the attack to the New Zealand bowlers and shared a stand of 124 from just 56 deliveries, with Oram coming in for some heavy punishment as Dhoni thumped five consecutive fours in the 43rd over to go past his half-century.
Raina pressed his claim for a World Cup starting berth with a 26-ball fifty before he was caught by Ross Taylor off Kyle Mills, although it mattered little as Dhoni pressed on. He registered his hundred in the final over of the innings as India posted a formidable total.
It was always going to be an arduous chase for New Zealand, but openers Guptill and McCullum made a serene start before the former was caught behind off Ravichandran Ashwin for 38.
McCullum was run out by Raina for 58 and New Zealand's hopes were further undermined as Ross Taylor, James Franklin and Jesse Ryder fell in quick succession.
Yuvraj Singh picked up the wickets of Jamie How and Oram and, when Scott Styris was bowled by Piyush Chawla, the game was all but over.
Nathan McCullum hit an unbeaten 29 from 18 deliveries but Ashish Nehra wrapped up the win for India by bowling Luke Woodcock and Mills.