Gautam Gambhir rediscovered his touch and Mahendra Singh Dhoni displayed an overdue attacking innings as India amassed 360 runs in 50 overs, only their 3rd score of over 200 in the last 1 month.
India won the toss and chose to bat on a characteristic Chennai wicket with little help for the bowlers. Playing without skipper Daniel Vettori and only one spinner in the form of Nathan McCullum, New Zealand left too much to do for their pacers and were made to pay for it dearly.
They started off decently in the first 10 overs, picking the wickets of Sehwag and Tendulkar. But after that, it was all India as, first, Gambhir and Kohli and then Gambhir and Dhoni put on big partnerships in the middle of the innings to ensure India had enough wickets in the final stages. It paid off as India scored their at more than 12 runs per over, the last 100 runs coming off only 7 overs. Dhoni reached his century and was ably supported by Suresh Raina who scored a 50 off just 25 balls.
Getting 361 was always going to be a tall order for this New Zealand squad which has become slightly unfamiliar with winning in the last 6 months. The initial power plays went well as they played the pacers with disdain. But, yet again, the introduction of spinners completely halted the flow of the batting side. Ashwin got rid of Guptill and New Zealand slumped to 147-5 in 25 overs after being comfortably poised at 94-0 in 15 overs. Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla picked up wickets again.
Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel continue to look suspect and out of confidence. But the effect of the spinners has already started to tell. The sub-continent teams look almost invincible and the spinners are having a ball. The non-Asian teams will have a lot of homework to do if they want to progress in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.