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MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, hammers his way to an undefeated 108 against New Zealand. Punit Parankpe / AFP
MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, hammers his way to an undefeated 108 against New Zealand. Punit Parankpe / AFP

Dhoni leads by example in strong warm-up win over Kiwis

New Zealand latest to be crushed by World Cup hosts raising further the hopes of local fans.

India brushed aside New Zealand by 117 runs in Chennai yesterday, confirming their status as the favourites to win the World Cup on home soil.

With holders Australia soundly beaten in their previous warm-up game at Bangalore on Sunday, MS Dhoni, the captain, rattled up an undefeated 108 off 105 balls as the hosts made a mammoth score of 360 for five off their 50 overs.

Though Sachin Tendulkar was out for just 17 and his opening partner Virender Sehwag managed only 23, there was simply no stopping India's belligerent middle order.

Gautam Gambhir (89 off 141) and Virat Kohli (59 off 79) put on 106 for the third wicket before Dhoni and Suresh Raina (50 off 42) left the Kiwis crushed.

The final 16 overs saw an incredible 193 runs scored and with the crowd whipped in to a frenzy, New Zealand were never in the game.

An opening stand of 94 off 15 overs between Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum provided a solid start, but Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Pyush Chawla took two wickets each as the New Zealanders were all out for 243 with seven overs left.

"We have hitters down the order, and that total was above par on this track." Dhoni said. "I take my time, and then like to stay until the end for the slog overs. You have to remind yourself of your strengths. Hopefully, we will do well once the World Cup starts."

Ross Taylor, the New Zealand captain, said: "We've got to give credit to Dhoni, he took the game away from us."

In their warm-up game, England used Kevin Pietersen as an opening batsman in their narrow 16-run victory over minnows Canada.

He was out for just 24 on a painfully slow wicket at Fatullah but the batting of Matt Prior (78) and the bowling of a fit-again Stuart Broad (five for 37) ended Canadian resistance.

Prior and Jonathan Trott (57) saw England to 243. Canada still had four overs to bat when Broad helped finish them off for 227.

Pietersen remains enthusiastic about opening. He said: "I'm looking forward to it. I'll look to play my normal game. I'm fine."

Meanwhile Haroon Lorgat, the International Cricket Council's (ICC) chief executive, wants the tribunal that banned Salman Butt for five years for corruption to determine if his new job as a World Cup television commentator breaches the terms of his sentence.

Lorgat said: "We are not satisfied with this appointment."

* Agencies

Play the fantasy cricket online, the official video game of the Cricket World Cup 2011.

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