Cricket: Big hitting victory puts NZ well through

By David Leggat

New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum on the way to his 100 against Canada at the World Cup yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum on the way to his 100 against Canada at the World Cup yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand made sure of their place in the World Cup quarter-finals last night with a 97-run win against Canada in Mumbai.

But they will await news on senior seamer Kyle Mills, who limped off with a quad muscle strain in his third over, after nipping out two early wickets.

The initial diagnosis was that Mills left as a precaution, suggesting no serious concerns.

New Zealand's final group A game is also at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday night against one of the favourites, Sri Lanka.

Win that, and New Zealand will be in a better position going into the knockout stage than might have been expected. It could mean facing the West Indies, or Bangladesh or England rather than the formidable South Africans or India.

New Zealand passed 300 for the second time in a week in setting Canada an exacting challenge last night.

Despite a 125-run fourth wicket stand between captain Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra, both of whom made half centuries, Canada were always well behind the run rate, never remotely threatened the target and much of the pursuit was tedious.

Having been sent in, New Zealand reached 358 for six on the back of a third ODI century from opener Brendon McCullum and a blistering 74 from stand-in captain Ross Taylor.

It is the second highest total of the tournament behind India's 370 for four on the opening night against Bangladesh, and by 59 runs the highest ODI total made at the stadium.

The icing came from James Franklin who clubbed 31 not out off eight balls at the end, 31 coming off the final over.

But at one point, 300 was looking iffy, as Canada's hardworking attack restricted New Zealand to three boundaries and one six from the 15th to 32nd over.

That prospect changed once Taylor found his range.

McCullum was out of the blocks briskly, and went to his half century in 38 balls.

Canada's seamers were able to make the new ball wobble about, but once settled, McCullum's biggest dangers came from running between the wickets.

He had a scare at 70 when sent back by Jesse Ryder and at 91, losing concentration, would have been out by a mile had a throw from short fine leg hit the stumps.

Ryder, dropped at cover on 33, holed out to long on at 149, before McCullum, having become the eighth New Zealander to pass 4000 ODI runs, went to his century, off 107 balls before slapping a catch straight to extra cover in the first batting power play over.

Around that point Taylor, fresh from belting Pakistan's bowlers around Pallekele in mid-week, slipped into overdrive.

He walloped four sixes in five balls off medium pacer Rizwan Cheema, and made his last 45 runs from only 13 balls before being caught at short third man.

Scott Styris, Franklin and Kane Williamson chipped in late on as the bowling fell apart. Canada's fielding became ropey and it turned into the equivalent of a free hour in the pie shop for the batsmen.

Williamson, who will join Gloucestershire on a one-year deal after the cup, was in for injured captain Dan Vettori, and Ryder replaced Jamie How in the other change from the Pakistan game.

- NZ Herald

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