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Mar 11, 2009

India beats NZ by 10 wickets to clinch series

Virender Sehwag sped to a century from 60 balls, the seventh fastest in limited-overs international history, as India beat New Zealand by 10 wickets in a rain-reduced contest Wednesday to clinch the series with a match to spare.

Sehwag's hundred was the fastest by an Indian batsman in one day internationals, beating Mohammad Azharuddin's 62-ball effort against New Zealand at Baroda 21 years ago, and helped clinched India's first win in a limited-overs series in New Zealand.

Sehwag finished 125 not out from 74 ball and Gautam Gambhir was 63 not out as India reached 201 without loss in 23.3 overs, replying to New Zealand's 270 from 47 overs in a rain-affected match. India's unbroken opening partnership was the largest to win a match in one-day international history.

"I love it," Sehwag said. "I know how the pitches behave here. I played here also in 2003 and scored two hundreds that time.

"This time the pitches are so flat and good to bat on."

Sehwag blasted 14 fours and six sixes in an innings which, around three rain interruptions, occupied only 139 minutes. He rushed to a half century from 31 balls and helped India reached 100 in 54 minutes from 69 balls.

Sehwag passed his century in 87 minutes with 13 fours and four sixes, adding his second 50 from only 29 balls.

Two rain interruptions during New Zealand's innings left them facing only 47 overs and they seemed to have achieved a competitive total of 270 for five.

Brendon McCullum made 77 in an opening partnership of 102 with Jesse Ryder (46) then, after a middle order collapse which saw five wickets fall for 73 runs, Peter McGlashan and Grant Elliott added 95 from 61 balls in an unbeaten stand for the sixth wicket.

McGlashan made 56 not out, his maiden international half century, and Elliott 35 not out in a stand which gave New Zealand some hope of arresting India's domination of the series.

India began chasing 280 from 47 overs under Duckworth-Lewis calculations, then 262 off 43 overs and, finally, 220 off 36 as their chase was twice revised after rain interruptions. They were well ahead of New Zealand on Duckworth-Lewis comparisons when rain finally ended the match in the 24th over, shortly after 9 p.m.

"It was a good old fashioned hiding," New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said. "We didn't really get ourselves in the game. We were a little bit short on the runs and then Sehwag and Gambhir played outstandingly to take the game away from us."

Vettori said New Zealand needed to win the fifth and final match of the series in Auckland on Saturday _ a match which is already sold out _ for "our own credibility and our own peace of mind."

Indian captain M.S.Dhoni was delighted that India had won so comprehensively in its first run chase of the series.

"It was amazing to see the way Sehwag and Gambhir batted," he said.

"They took calculated risks. They targeted a few bowlers to go after and I think that's the key. We wanted to play our natural cricket and that's what they were doing.

"They were rotating the strike, chipping the boundaries and in between Sehwag was at his best."

India won two of the first three matches heading into Wednesday's match and the other was washed out.

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