Fine quality bowling by Indian seamers helped India beat New Zealand by 105 runs to enter the tri-series final, where they will clash against Sri Lanka on Saturday, in Dambulla on Wednesday.
Chasing a scanty target of 204 runs, New Zealand were bundled up for 118 in 30.1 overs. New Zealand had a dismal start as they lost half of their side inside 41 runs.
Kiwi batsmen meekly surrendered against some quality work exhibited by Indian seamers in the do-or-die encounter of the tri-series.
Seamers Praveen Kumar (3/34) and Munaf Patel (3/21) shared six wickets together.
Tail-ender Kyle Mills, who top-scored with 52, late bust delayed India’s inevitable victory for sometime.
The lone Kiwi fighter Mills hammered seven fours and three sixes during his half-century knock.
India got off to a great start as Praveen Kumar, who triggered Kiwi batting collapse, struck in the very first delivery of the innings to dismiss New Zealand opener Martin Guptill.
Seamer Ashish Nehra complimented Praveen by providing India second breakthrough as he scalped Kiwi opener Bradley Watling.
Praveen Kumar kept the pressure mounting on Kiwi batsmen as he struck again to first get rid of skipper Ross Taylor and then all-rounder Scott Styris.
Ishant picked up his first wicket when he cleaned up Kane Williamson for 13 as New Zealand were tottering for 41/5 at that stage.
Munaf Patel too joined the party, entering his name in the wicket-takers’ register, by trapping Gareth Hopkins for duck in front of the wicket. Munaf picked up his second wicket, India’s seventh, in the form of Grant Elliot.
Munaf was in no mood to spare Kiwis as he struck again to pick up his third successive wicket in the form of Nathan McCullum.
Kiwis were struggling at 53 for 8 after 22.2 overs. New Zealand’s run-chase never got wings as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
The doors of victory for Kiwis were virtually closed by the Indian seamers who kept the pressure all through the Kiwi innings.
Earlier, Tim Southee and Nathan McCullum shared seven wickets as New Zealand bowled India out for 223 despite a superb century by Virender Sehwag.
Paceman Southee finished with 4/49 and off-spinner McCullum with 3/35 as India failed to capitalise on the advantage given by opener Sehwag, who cracked one six and 16 fours in a 93-ball 110 for his 13th one-day hundred.
Sehwag was the fifth man out at 173, but India lost their remaining five wickets for just 50 runs.
India were earlier tottering at 66/4 in 13 overs after electing to bat when Sehwag propped up the innings with a 107-run stand for the fifth wicket with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38).
Fast bowlers Southee, Kyle Mills (2/42) and Andy McKay (1/31) tested the Indian batsmen with pace and bounce in their lively opening spells to help New Zealand seize the early initiative.
Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina all failed to reach double-figures.
Southee took two wickets while Mills and McKay grabbed one apiece before Sehwag and Dhoni steadied the innings with their sensible knocks.
Although wickets fell at regular intervals from one end, Sehwag kept playing attacking shots from the other and raced to his half-century off 41 balls when he hit seamer Scott Styris through the covers for his ninth four.
Sehwag then hit McCullum for a straight six and a four through the covers off successive deliveries. He took 46 more balls to complete his century, with a single off spinner Kane Williamson.
The Indian opener fell playing shots, caught at deep mid-wicket by Bradley- John Watling off McCullum in the 33rd over.
McCullum struck again when he had Dhoni caught by wicket-keeper Gareth Hopkins, who took four catches.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel.
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (capt), Kyle Mills (vice-capt), Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Nathan McCullum, Andy McKay, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson. (TNN)