Monday, March 14, 2011

New Zealand vs Canada

New Zealand walked to an easy 97-run win over Canada in Mumbai and sealed their place in the quarter-finals. They romped unchallenged to 358 for 6 and then held Canada to 261 for 9 in reply. Brendon McCullum's century, and a brutal late assault from Ross Taylor and the lower middle order, put the score well out of Canada's reach. Ashish Bagai's 84 and an unbeaten 70 from Jimmy Hansra ensured Canada at least reached their highest total of the tournament, but there was never even a hint that they would mount a challenge against New Zealand's effort.
Canada won the toss and Bagai chose to bowl, hoping to take advantage of any early-morning moisture on a pitch that had a typically reddish tinge to it. But after a reasonably disciplined start the bowlers' lines started to waver and Brendon McCullum, in particular, took a heavy toll. He repeatedly rifled cuts and drives through or over the off side, and had entered the 30s at better than a-run-a-ball when New Zealand's fifty came up in the ninth over.
Canada struck through some dogged medium pace from Harvir Baidwan and a stellar piece of wicketkeeping from Bagai, who has greatly enhanced his reputation behind the stumps in the course of this tournament. He held onto a thick edge, standing up, to get rid of Martin Guptill.
McCullum passed fifty and soon tired of accumulation when the field was set back, reverse-sweeping John Davison for the first boundary in six overs and then jumping down the track to swat legspinner Balaji Rao high over long-off. Jesse Ryder, who had tempered his usual aggression to reach 38 from 55 balls, looked to follow suit against Davison soon after but sliced across a flighted offspinner to present Henry Osinde with an easy catch at long-on.
Taylor flicked Osinde twice to the leg-side boundary to kick-start his innings and partnered Brendon McCullum to his third ODI hundred in the 36th over. With New Zealand's two most devastating batsmen at the crease, the batting Powerplay was called for immediately afterwards, but Brendon McCullum was its first victim when he slapped Baidwan straight to Ruvindu Gunasekara at extra cover.
Though Rao picked up two wickets in the remaining overs, including that of Taylor for a 44-ball 74 that included four mighty sixes in the space of a single over, Canada completely unravelled in the field as the score went stratospheric. A whopping 74 runs came from the batting Powerplay, and 122 from the last 10 overs, including 31 from the final over of the innings during which Rizwan Cheema was removed from the attack for his second beamer of the innings.
The signs were ominous for Canada when Ruvindu Gunasekara slashed at the first ball of Kyle Mills' second over and Taylor timed his leap to perfection at first slip to pluck the ball out of the air one handed. The boundary had still not been reached when, two overs later, Zubin Surkari hung his bat out limply at another Mills outswinger to offer Taylor his second catch.
Canada were 4 for 2 and sinking fast, but Bagai and Hiral Patel wasted no time in launching a spirited fightback. Their effort was no doubt helped by a premature end to Mills' spell when he pulled up lame one ball after he had dismissed Surkari, clutching at his left knee in some pain and leaving the field straightaway.
After a nerveless, shotless start to his innings Patel took Tim Southee on in stirring fashion, targeting the off side in a series of imperious thumps. He reached a fluent 31 but was then undone by a well-directed bouncer from Jacob Oram that cramped him for room, a thin edge nestling safely in Brendon McCullum's gloves.
Their partnership had stretched to 46 at a good rate before it was broken, and Bagai's contribution had been steady, composed accumulation. He went into the 30s with a classy loft over cover off Nathan McCullum and continued in much the same gear in Hansra's company.
The pair added 125 for the fourth wicket, a partnership dominated by ones and twos but punctuated by a couple of strong shots whenever a bad ball was bowled. Though there was no chance it could result in a win, there was still the achievement that it was Canada's second-highest against a Test-playing nation, beaten only by Geoff Barnett and Ian Billcliff's 177-run stand against Bangladesh at the 2007 World Cup.
Bagai went to fifty by spanking a full toss from Kane Williamson to the cover boundary, but the searing heat of the Mumbai afternoon after he'd also kept wicket for the first half of the game began to take its toll. As cramps set in Bagai began to hit out in search of a century, but perished when a flashing drive resulted only in a thin edge behind.
It was cramp that did for Hansra too, and he retired on 53 - his second half-century in successive games - soon after the batting Powerplay was taken in the 41st over. The match had long ceased to be a contest by that stage, the situation typified by Davison's amateurish run-out, but Canada's lower order did at least throw the bat around and Hansra returned to the crease after rehydrating to ensure they batted out the full 50 overs.
They can at least take some comfort in the way they have improved as a team in the course of this tournament. For their part, the win means New Zealand now top the Group A points table.
New Zealand's total of 358 is their second highest in World Cups behind the 363 they made against Canada in 2007. They have six scores above 300 in World Cups.
Brendon McCullum's century is his first in World Cups and his third overall in ODIs. His previous highest in World Cups was 76 against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad.
New Zealand scored 74 runs in the batting Powerplay, the most by any team in this World Cup. Pakistan are second, with 70 runs against Kenya.
Ross Taylor's strike rate is the third highest for a New Zealand batsman for a fifty-plus score in World Cups.
The 12 sixes hit in New Zealand's innings is the second highest for them in an innings in World Cups. The overall record is 18, jointly held by India and South Africa.
Rizwan Cheema's economy rate of 13.24 is the fourth highest among all bowlers who have bowled at least four overs in an innings in a World Cup match.
The 125-run stand between Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra is the third highest for Canada for the third wicket in ODIs and the second highest in World Cups.
Bagai's 84 is his 16th fifty in ODIs and his highest score in a World Cup match. He has scored two hundreds and 16 fifties at an average of 38.44 in ODIs.
Canada's 261 is their highest total in World Cups, going past the 249 they made against New Zealand in 2007.

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