BLACKCAPS safely through to quarters

The BLACKCAPS completed a workmanlike 97-run win over Canada in their group A match at the cricket World Cup in Mumbai today.

The win, which guaranteed the BLACKCAPS would qualify for the quarterfinals, was set up on the back of Brendon McCullum's third one-day international century and stand-in captain Ross Taylor's destructive hitting as they reached 358 for six while Canada ended on 261 for nine.

But of immediate concern for BLACKCAPS management will be the fitness of Mills who was forced from the field in the fifth over of Canada's run chase with what appeared to be an injured left knee and failed to return to the bowling crease.

Mills had grabbed two wickets in his 16 deliveries to reduce Canada to four for two, but any thoughts of an early finish were dashed by Canada skipper Ahish Bagai who made an accomplished 84 before a combination of cramp and Nathan McCullum got the better of him.

He shared a 125-run stand for the fourth wicket with Jimmy Hansra (70 not out), but both were hobbled by cramp in the latter part of their innings prompting numerous visits to the middle from support staff and the eventual retirement of Hansra when on 53. He returned in the 46th over, but by that time the match was effectively over.

Canada never threatened New Zealand's mammoth total, but the Black Caps, even without Mills and Vettori, would have hoped to wrap up the match well inside the 50 overs.

But the bowlers got a decent workout, led by Jacob Oram who took three for 47, while Tim Southee and Scott Styris offered good support.

Earlier, McCullum hit a 107-ball ton and Taylor smashed 74 from just 44 balls as the Black Caps batsmen took to the Canadian bowlers on a slow pitch at the redeveloped Wankhede Stadium.

A brutal batting power play, when New Zealand, and Taylor in particular, hammered 74 off five overs, ensured the Canadians were batted out of the match.

Martin Guptill and McCullum added 53 for the first wicket before a smart piece of work by wicketkeeper Ashish removed Guptill. Jesse Ryder had been largely untroubled in reaching 38 before he chipped veteran off-spinner John Davison to long on. Davison was the pick of the bowlers and finished with one for 30 from his 10 overs and avoided the punishment meted out to his teammates.

McCullum was composed during his innings of 101, opting for restraint rather than all-out attack, but still managed 12 boundaries and two sixes.

His dismissal, four balls after New Zealand took their batting power play at the start of the 37th over, threatened to stymie the accumulation of runs, but Taylor, fresh from his unbeaten 131 against Pakistan, launched another display of power hitting, to make the most of the fielding restrictions.

The ground, which will host the World Cup final on April 2, had trouble containing the aggression of Taylor as he pummelled four sixes off one Baidwan over that cost 28 runs.

He added another six and was on track for the fastest one-day century by a New Zealander, currently Craig McMillan's 67-ball effort, when he fell to an excellent diving catch by Hansra in the 41st over.

Williamson added an unbeaten 34 but the fireworks came from Styris (35) and James Franklin (31 not out) as the Black Caps put on 120 over the final 10 overs.

Styris bludgeoned two sixes and three fours in his 20-ball stay, while Franklin stroked three sixes and two fours from a final over which cost 31 runs.


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