Cricket: Sehwag's Seddon Park slaughter

By David Leggat

Just when New Zealand thought things couldn't get any worse, they did; Seddon Park witnessed a slaughter last night.

Virendar Sehwag ripped apart New Zealand's bowlers, and the record books, in hitting a thrilling 125 not out off just 74 balls to carry India to a crushing 10-wicket win and their first one-day series in six attempts on New Zealand soil.

In a chase which changed three times with rain breaks, India reached 201 for none in 23.3 overs to win under Duckworth Lewis rules, equalling the highest first-wicket stand in ODIs against New Zealand, by Sri Lankans Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga three years ago.

New Zealand, desperate to find something to arrest a depressing run in the series to date, chose to bat first. They reached 270 for five in a rain-reduced 47 overs, but once Sehwag got set they didn't have a prayer.

He was stunning. No bowler was safe as he took New Zealand apart, reaching his fifth century against New Zealand and 11th overall.

When he slapped Dan Vettori over the fence at long off for the fourth of his six sixes to go with 14 fours, it took him to his century in just 60 balls, making it the fastest struck in New Zealand, the quickest by an Indian - eclipsing Mohammad Azharuddin's 62-ball effort at Baroda in 1988, and one guess for the identity of the opposition - and the seventh fastest ever.

Gautam Gambhir, in his Delhi chum's shadow, made a classy 63 off 67 balls.

Vettori said it was a tough game, "a good old-fashioned hiding".

"There are no excuses. I thought we needed more than 300 to give ourselves a really good chance."

India's batsmen demolished NZ at Napier and Christchurch, but this was worse - carnage on a grand scale.

A comparison: at Napier, en route to 273 for four in 38 overs, India were 69 for one off 10 overs, the 100 coming in the 14th over; at Christchurch last Sunday, on the way to 392 for four, they were 58 for one at 10 overs, the 100 arriving in 18.4 overs.

Last night, Sehwag and Gambhir had 83 off 10 overs and reached 100 in 11.3 overs. For the 11,000 crowd, most of whom were cheering wildly for India, this was nirvana.

Sehwag damaged all the New Zealand bowlers, mixing crashing drives with booming pulls. His footwork was quick and precise. No one could stem the rush of runs.

That said, the bowling was ghastly, a true horror show, even allowing for Sehwag's mastery.

Iain O'Brien's first over went for 17; his three cost 37; left armer Ewen Thompson may have had his final night in black, his four overs costing 42; even Dan Vettori took punishment. Kyle Mills was the pick but still went at six an over.

They looked lost, clearly unable to do what they'd talked about since Christchurch, sticking to their lines, Any semblance of self-belief, of backing themselves to get the ball in places to at least challenge Sehwag, was missing.

If the full house at Eden Park for the final ODI on Saturday are going for the entertainment, fine; if they're hoping to see a reversal of fortunes, at this rate they've no hope.

Earlier, New Zealand's hit-and-miss innings leaned heavily on two partnerships.

Openers Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum put on 102, their second consecutive century stand, and wicketkeeper Peter McGlashan, showing innovation and a cool head, hit a bright 56 not out to put on 95 unbroken with Grant Elliott for the sixth wicket.

When they banged on 74 in the final seven overs, the assumption was they'd given India some work to do.

The tour, from a New Zealand viewpoint, is now in danger of falling apart.

NEW ZEALAND
J Ryder c Raina b Yuvraj46
B McCullum lbw Khan77
R Taylor c R Sharma b Pathan5
M Guptill c sub (Karthik) b I Sharma25
J Oram c Dhoni b I Sharma1
P McGlashan not out56
G Elliott not out35

Extras (9lb 13w 3nb)25

Total (for 5 wkts, 47 overs)270

Fall: 102, 108, 155, 156, 175.

Bowling: Z Khan 10-0-49-1 (2w), P Kumar 7-0-51-0 (3w), I Sharma 8-0-57-2 (3nb 1w), Y Singh 9-0-40-1, Y Pathan 5-0-14-1, H Singh 8-0-50-0 (7w).

INDIA

G Gambhir not out 63
V Sehwag not out125

Extras (9lb, 4w) 13

Total 201

Bowling: K Mills 5-0-29-0, E Thompson 4-0-42-0 (2w), I O'Brien 3-0-37-0 (1w), D Vettori 5-0-32-0, J Oram 4.3-0-43-0, G Elliott 2-0-9-0 (1w).

Result: India won by 10 wickets (DL).

- NZ Herald

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