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New Zealand thrash India

After levelling the Test series against Sri Lanka three days ago, the Indian team was literally on a high. However, the Men in Blue were literally grounded by an unfancied New Zealand in the tournament opener on Tuesday. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard | India's toughest days

cricket Updated: Aug 11, 2010 01:48 IST
Amol Karhadkar

After levelling the Test series against Sri Lanka three days ago, the Indian team was literally on a high, having flown by army choppers from Colombo for the tri-series in Dambulla.

However, the Men in Blue were literally grounded by an unfancied New Zealand in the tournament opener on Tuesday. Set 289 to win, India innings folded up for just 88, with 20.3 overs to spare.

Given the history of the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium - a venue known to offer movement in the air in the evening, where the average run rate achieved is 4.40, India had to get off to a solid start to stay in the hunt.

And Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik partially achieved this, putting 39 on the board before the 7th over was completed. But a Kyle Mills short ball undid Sehwag (19), who only managed to glove the ball down the leg side for Kiwi keeper Gareth Hopkins to accept a dolly.

That started the downfall and 59 balls later, the Indian chase was in tatters, at 62 for 6 in the 17th over. Karthik (14), Rohit Sharma (4) and Suresh Raina (6) perished to Daryl Tuffey's seam-up bowling. While the opener could consider himself slightly unlucky for being adjudged lbw, Raina and Sharma gave catching practice to the slip cordon.

Then came a dismissal that was tragically funny, as skipper MS Dhoni was run out following some inexplicable calling with Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj soon followed the trend set by Rohit and Raina and scooped one to Ross Taylor at first slip and left India reeling at 62 for 6.

The catching practice continued as Praveen Kumar offered Taylor his third catch of the match off Jacob Oram in the 20th over.

For Dhoni's wife Sakshi, who made her maiden appearance at a cricket venue after turning her back on the Test series, it turned out to be a forgettable outing. No wonder she left soon after Kumar returned to the pavilion.

Earlier in the afternoon, riding on the 190-run fourth-wicket partnership between Taylor (95 off 113 balls) and senior pro Scott Styris (89 off 95), New Zealand put on 288 off their allotted 50 overs.

Taylor took the guard in the third over after Martin Guptill (11) nicked one from Praveen Kumar straight into Dhoni's gloves. And by the time Styris joined his skipper four overs later, Kumar and Nehra had accounted for debutant Kane Williamson (0) and Peter Ingram (12), to leave the Kiwis reeling at 28 for 3. Pragyan Ojha should have succeeded in seeing the back of both of them even before they celebrated their fifties. But Dhoni missed a stumping chance to dismiss Styris in the 19th over, while Raina made excellent ground but failed to latch on to a top edge off Taylor's blade four overs later.