NZ win series opener
New Zealand beat India by seven wickets in the first Twenty20 cricket match.
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2009 11:11 GMT

Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram celebrate their victory over India [AFP]
Brendon McCullum made 56 not out and shared an unbroken 60-run partnership with Jacob Oram to lead New Zealand to a seven-wicket win over India in the first of two Twenty20 cricket internationals.

McCullum fashioned a restrained half century from 48 balls with three sixes and two fours to steer New Zealand past India's total of 162 for eight with seven balls to spare.

New Zealand were 166 for three in the 19th over when Oram (29 not out) struck the game's 41st six to clinch the win in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

Big hitting

India's innings, highlighted by an unbeaten 61 by Suresh Raina, included 13 sixes, one fewer than the record for a single innings in a Twenty20 international.

When New Zealand peppered the short boundaries at AMI Stadium with 11 more sixes, delighting a crowd in excess of 16,000, they established a record for most sixes in an international Twenty20 match.

India appeared to have posted a competitive total after losing the toss and being sent in on a slow pitch which occasionally confounded batsmen with low bounce.

Raina played a steadying hand in an innings which progressed in fits and starts with alternate clutches of sixes and wickets.

Virender Sehwag opened the innings explosively with three sixes from the first three balls he faced before he was bowled by Tim Southee for 26.

Later, Yusuf Pathan smashed three straight sixes from the first three balls bowled by rookie off-spinner Nathan McCullum - brother of Brendon - and was caught on the boundary by Oram attempting a fourth.

Raina hit two successive sixes to raise his 50 from 38 balls. His innings lasted 43 balls and included five sixes and two fours.

McCullum hit two sixes and a four from three balls to raise New Zealand's hundred as the home team carefully but relentlessly chased down the Indian total.

Suresh Raina guided India with aggressive batting [AFP]
'Pleasing win'

"It was a really pleasing win,'' New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said.

"In all aspects we played well. India put us under real pressure and to still get up and win was a good effort.''

McCullum cleverly guided the New Zealand run chase, opening the innings and batting through all of their 18.5 overs.

He lost his opening partner, Jesse Ryder, with the total at two but was helped by Martin Guptill (41) to revive the innings with 54 runs for the second wicket.

Ross Taylor made a valuable 31, guiding New Zealand to 106 for three, then old heads McCullum and Oram steered New Zealand home.

India skipper M.S. Dhoni said the manner in which New Zealand went about their innings was educational.

"We got off to a good start but we failed to approach it as a 20-over match,'' he said.
"There are 20 overs and people fail to realise it’s a decently long game.

"Nobody took responsibility to stay there in the middle and bat through because it's important to have wickets in hand at the end.

The second match is at Wellington on Friday. The tour also involves a limited-overs series and three Test matches.

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