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New Zealand registered an easy victory by 97 runs in their penultimate Group A game against Canada at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday to go to the top of the table. Batting first, New Zealand posted a mammoth total of 358 on the back of Brendon McCullum's first century of the tournament and some brilliant cameos by Ross Taylor, Scott Styris and James Franklin. New Zealand finished their innings rather emphatically as they plundered 180 runs in the last 15 overs. Canada were never really in the hunt in their chase, but a 125 run stand between Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra helped the minnows post a respectable 261/9 in the end.
Canada won the toss and decided to bowl first in order to take advantage of the early morning start and make the most of the conditions. Brendon McCullum started in aggressive fashion despite the movement that was on offer. His opening partner Martin Guptill was watchful from the other end and let his partner do most of the hitting. Canada got some reward for their consistency with Harvir Baidwan picking up his 10th wicket of the tournament when Guptill (17) edged the moving ball to the keeper. Jesse Ryder was back in the team after missing the game against Pakistan and came out to join McCullum. The Kiwi keeper-batsman reached his 20th ODI fifty off just 38 balls and New Zealand looked all set for a 300 plus score. Ryder played the secondary role to perfection, rotating the strike well.
New Zealand reached 100 in the 18th over but Canada struck back through their spinners, slowing down the run rate. Ryder attempted to break the shackles, but fell for 38 chipping a John Davison delivery straight down the throat of long-on. Previous game centurion Ross Taylor came in next and the stage was set for him to go berserk once again. McCullum meanwhile opted for the risk free approach as he closed in on his century, but fell immediately after getting to the landmark as New Zealand opted for their batting powerplay.
Ross Taylor was joined by Brendon's elder brother Nathan, who was promoted to take advantage of the fielding restrictions. Ross Taylor showed that he was now really the man in form as smashed 28 off one Baidwan over. The following over then went for 16, but Canadian skipper Ashish Bagai and turned to spin and was rewarded by Balaji Rao, who got Taylor to top edge one, which was caught by a brilliant diving effort by Jimmy Hansra. The Kiwi skipper for the day had made 74 from 44 balls. His innings included 5 sixes and 6 fours. Canada breathed a sigh of relief when McCullum then gave a catch straight to Balaji off his own bowling to head back for 10.
Kane Williamson and Scott Styris were the two new men in the middle who had the job of taking New Zealand past 300. Styris got going straight away hitting boundaries on every chance he got. Williamson took time to settle but then he got into the act as well. The batsmen were given lives by the Canadians as there were a few dropped catches. New Zealand reached 300 in the 48th over and posted the highest total at the ground. James Franklin came in after Styris fell for 35 and took New Zealand past 350, hitting 31 off the last over. His 8 ball cameo included 3 sixes and 2 fours.
Canada wouldn't have really harboured any genuine hopes of chasing down the total, but they would have hoped to put up a brave effort. Their chase didn't start too well though as they lost Ruvindu Gunasekera, caught in the slips off Kyle Mills in the third over. The runs were not coming but the wickets were as Zubin Surkari fell in identical fashion to Gunasekera. But Kyle Mills left the field after picking up the two wickets and didn't return. Ryder was given the ball by the captain to complete Mills' over and Bagai took full advantage of the two balls which he hit to the boundary.
Hiral Patel, another new opener for Canada today, started off slowly but opened up after hitting three consecutive boundaries off Tim Southee. Bagai has been in good touch during the entire tournament and was timing the ball very well today as well. Patel's adventure ended at 31 (35b) after he went after Oram on a bouncer to just manage an edge to McCullum. He was given not out by the umpire but the decision was reversed after New Zealand reviewed the decision. Canada were 50 for 3 in the 13th over as the match winning partnership from the last game, Bagai and Hansra, came together once again.
Both batsmen continued the same way they played against Kenya, the difference being Bagai' high strike today. Canada went past 100 in the 25th over. Bagai reached his 50 off just 55 balls and looked to bat the distance today. Runs started coming for Canada but the target looked out of reach as the required rate climbed to 12. Hansra reached his 50 and the partnership had blossomed to 125 when Bagai departed for 84, caught Brendon bowled Nathan. Cheema came in and departed quickly for just 2. Hansra retired hurt midway through his innings, suffering from cramps.
The wickets though kept tumbling and Hansra needed to come back to ensure Canada played out their 50 overs. Canada did well to score 261 in their 50 overs with Bagai top scoring for his 84. Canada will be happy with their effort and they have something to take away from this game in the form of a good batting performance.
New Zealand play their last match of the group stages against Sri Lanka at the same venue this coming Friday, and will look for another win so that they finish as far up the table as possible. Canada have another tough opponent to negotiate when they face Australia at the M Chinnaswamy in Bangalore this Wednesday.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (wk), Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor (c), Scott Styris, James Franklin, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Kane Williamson, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee.
Canada: Ruvindu Gunasekera, Rizwan Cheema, Zubin Surkari, Ashish Bagai (wk & c), Jimmy Hansra, Hiral Patel, John Davison, Harvir Baidwan, Parth Desai, Henry Osinde, Balaji Rao.
New Zealand 358/6 in 50 overs (7.16 runs per over)
B McCullum 101(109) H Baidwan 3-84
R Taylor 74(44) B Rao 2-62
Canada 261/9 in 50 overs (5.22 runs per over)
A Bagai 84(87) J Oram 3-47
J Hansra 70*(105) K Mills 2-2
New Zealand won by 97 runs
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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