Gambhir ton sinks BLACKCAPS

The BLACKCAPS lacked penetration with the ball and India's outstanding batting lead to the second straight loss to India, at Jaipur.

India's stand-in captain Gautam Gambhir cracked a magnificent, unbeaten 138 off 116 balls lifted the hosts to a comfortable eight-wicket win.

It was a case of Sachin and Virender who as elegant left-hander Gambhir stroked his way to his eighth one-day century, which enabled India -- missing star batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, among others -- to surpass New Zealand's seemingly challenging total of 258 for eight with seven overs to spare in the day-night match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium.

New Zealand gave Gambhir far too much width early on and 11 of his 18 boundaries came through the offside, his favoured area.

"We should have bowled better, it was as simple as that," New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori admitted post-match.

"We talked long and hard about bowling in Indian conditions, you just can't give width and I think we gave width to Gambhir all day and he made us pay for that.

"If you do that on slowish wickets, it's incredibly difficult to control the run-rate and we were never able to pull it back, even when we got a couple of wickets."

Gambhir put on 87 for the first wicket with Murali Vijay (33) and 116 for the second with Virat Kohli, who followed up his century in the 40-run win in the first one-dayer at Guwahati with a fluent 64 off 73 balls.

Gambhir led India as regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was rested for the series along with Tendulkar, Sehwag, and bowlers Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.

"It was important, getting a century as captain is special, and winning the game was more special," Gambhir said.

"They batted well and 259 was a decent total, but our bowlers did a good job to contain them.

"It was a complete team effort, and we want to continue this into the next game and be as professional as possible."

The two spinners -- Vettori and offspinner Nathan McCullum, who opened the bowling to good effect -- were the most miserly of the New Zealand bowlers.

Vettori, who returned to the lineup after missing the first match with a back injury, claimed one for 32 from eight overs while McCullum did a reasonable job at the top of the innings with none for 37 from nine overs.

Left arm quick Andy McKay snared the other Indian wicket but he was expensive, going for 59 runs off his seven overs.

New Zealand overcame tricky batting conditions early to post an above-par 258 for eight after Gambhir had inserted them on what turned into a flat wicket which got better for batting on as the match wore on.

Opener Martin Guptill anchored the innings with a patient 70 off 102 balls -- he crawled to his half-century in the 30th over -- while Scott Styris added the mid-innings impetus with 59 from just 56 balls.

Fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth removed Styris and skipper Daniel Vettori (31 off 32 balls) off successive balls in the 46th over after the pair had put on a quickfire 58 for the fifth wicket.

New Zealand recovered from a middle-order slump to smash 88 runs in the last 11 overs, boosting the total when it looked as though the tourists might have to settle for 230-odd.

Sreesanth did all the damage for the hosts, taking four for 47 from nine overs.

Vettori replaced allrounder Grant Elliott while seamer Tim Southee came in for Daryl Tuffey, who flew home from the tour after injury his bicep at Guwahati, in the two changes for New Zealand.

Wicketkeeper/bastman Brendon McCullum again wasn't selected as he continues to recuperate from a back injury but Vettori was hopeful the explosive batsman would be available for the third match at Vadodara on Saturday.

NZPA

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