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Sehwag's exploits seal series

VIRENDER Sehwag smashed the fastest century by an Indian to lead his country to a crushing win over New Zealand in their rain-shortened fourth one-day international at Hamilton yesterday.

Sehwag pounded an unbeaten 125 from just 74 balls to help India pile on 201 without loss in less than 24 overs when a fifth rain delay forced an early end to the match.

New Zealand had made 270 for five from its 47 overs but India, which was 84 runs ahead of the par score when the match was abandoned, was awarded a 10-wicket victory under the Duckworth-Lewis method.

The win gave India an unbeatable 3-0 lead and its first one-day series victory on New Zealand soil in 33 years, with Saturday's final game at Auckland still to be played.

Brendon McCullum and Peter McGlashan both blasted half-centuries as the Kiwis went on the rampage, chasing quick runs in their own innings, which was twice delayed by rain.

McCullum belted 77, featuring seven fours and two sixes, off 95 balls, while McGlashan made an unbeaten 56 from 42 deliveries and Grant Elliott chipped in with a quick 35 not out, but to no avail.

"It was a good old fashioned hiding," New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori told reporters.

"We're just not building partnerships with the ball. We know we have to build 20-25 balls of pressure to give ourselves a chance but we're just not doing that at the moment.

"Hopefully we can do it the last game for our own piece of mind and build a little bit of momentum heading into the test matches."

India was initially set a target of 281 off 47 overs to win but that was reduced to 220 off 36 overs after another rain delay.

Gautam Gambhir made 63 not out off 67 balls in an unbroken double-century partnership but his efforts were overshadowed by his fellow opener Sehwag, who smacked 14 boundaries and six sixes in a brilliant display of power hitting.

Sehwag brought up his century off just 60 balls, breaking Mohammad Azharuddin's record of 62 balls for the fastest one-day hundred by an Indian.

"They were amazing, they targeted a few bowlers they wanted to go after," Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said of his two openers.

"They were rotating the strike, chipping the boundaries and in between Sehwag was at his best.

"We want to play our natural cricket and that's what they were doing. The plus point is we weren't relying on one individual."

Sehwag himself was thrilled by his exploits.

"I love it," Sehwag said. "I know how the pitches behave here. I played here also in 2003 and scored two hundreds that time.

"This time the pitches are so flat and good to bat on."

Sehwag passed his century in 87 minutes with 13 fours and four sixes, adding his second 50 from only 29 balls to guide India to a series win.


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