After winning the toss on Wednesday, MS Dhoni said he was electing to bat because the Chennai crowd loves watching Sachin Tendulkar in action. So when Tendulkar failed in his first game after recovering from a hamstring strain, the skipper must have felt obliged to entertain the large turnout.
His incredible century in the final warm-up against New Zealand capped a day of wish fulfillment for his team. Barring the openers, all the other batsmen spent quality time in the middle. The innings was rebuilt in an ideal manner so that a platform was set for a late assault before a numbing barrage of fours and sixes took India to a giant total.
There couldn’t have been a better warm-up win before India board a chartered flight to Dhaka on Thursday morning for the World Cup opener against Bangladesh on Saturday.
Playing his first 50-over match in India since he scored a record double century against South Africa last February, Tendulkar started well. He was cautious against the new ball which didn’t do much and after a few watchful overs, he started improvising.
Having struck two fours earlier, he was looking good for more when he tried to heave a slower ball over mid-on, only to see the ball sneak in and hit the stumps.
Batting at No. 4, Virat Kohli led the revival with Gautam Gambhir, who came in at No. 3. This was a sensible partnership devoid of risks and the batsmen were happy working the ball into the gaps. India were on course for a decent total when Dhoni came in after Kohli’s departure.
New Zealand might have thought there would be respite after the batting power play. But wielding his bat like an axe, Dhoni waded into them like a hurricane that swept everything away. With Suresh Raina too having fun, the last 10 overs produced 136 runs.
New Zealand started well, before spinners completed India’s day of domination.
Turning point: The batting power play in India’s innings fetched 49 runs and left them at 216/4 after 39 overs.
Can’t miss this: In the 43rd over by Oram, Dhoni hit the last five balls for fours. In the next over by Nathan McCullum, he hit two more off the first two balls he faced, making it seven in a row.