Brendon McCullum steers New Zealand to Twenty20 victory

February 25th, 2009 - 6:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Christchurch, Feb 25 (IANS) Brendon McCullum hit an unbeaten half-century as New Zealand won the first of the two Twenty20 internationals against India by seven wickets here Wednesday.
Set to get 163, New Zealand made it losing only three wickets with Brendon smashing three sixes in his 56 off 49 balls at the AMI Stadium. Brendon was adjudged as the Man of the Match while Martin Guptill (41), Ross Taylor (31) and Jacob Oram (29 not out) chipped in with valuable contributions in overpowering the World Champions.

Earlier, put in to bat, India were in trouble as they slumped to 61 for five by the eighth over despite a brilliant start by Virender Sehwag (26). But Suresh Raina made an unbeaten 61 off 43 balls to help the visitors to put a decent total on board. But that was no enough on a smaller ground designed more for New Zealand’s most popular sport rugby.

Sehwag started with three consecutive sixes off Tim Southee in the first over. Gautam Gambhir at the other end cracked Ian O’Brien to the cover boundary, but was bowled off the next delivery.

O’Brien bowled Sehwag with the first ball of the next over, triggering a batting collapse. Rohit Sharma (7), who denied O’Brien a hat-trick, Yuvraj Singh (1) and Mahedra Singh Dhoni departed in quick succession as India slumped to 61 for five in the eighth over.

Raina then started the recovery process and was well assisted by Yusuf Pathan, who clubbed three sixes in a row for his quickfire 20, and Harbhajan Singh (21).

It took an astounding effort from Jacob Oram to get rid of Yusuf. While attempting his fourth consecutive six off Nathan McCullum, Yusuf dragged the ball from well outside the offstump to the wide long and Oram plucked the ball from the air on the ropes. But finding himself overbalance, he threw the ball into the air, coolly stepped back on to the field to complete an outstanding catch.

Raina, who hit five sixes and two fours, and Harbhajan then added 61 runs for the eighth wicket to set a challenging target for New Zealand.

The second Twenty20 international will be played Friday in Wellington.

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