No remedy as Sehwag vows to inflict more pain

Virender Sehwag dispensed with diplomacy and was as blunt as his batsmanship when asked if India now had the measure of BLACKCAPS bowlers after a record-breaking century carried his side to a historic one-day cricket series victory.

His assessment was short, sharp and in the affirmative after his spanking unbeaten 125 enabled India to claim their first ODI series on New Zealand soil at Seddon Park last night.

After carving up New Zealand's attack before intermittent showers ended game four prematurely, India's master blaster promised more of the same in the three-test series starting next Wednesday on a wicket adjacent to the pitch he used to showcased his audacious hitting.

New Zealand's hopes of defending what might normally be a respectable 270 for five rapidly evaporated either side of the rain delays as Sehwag mashed a Black Caps attack unable to counter to his simmering aggression.

Since Sehwag struck the first three balls he faced on tour for six in the Twenty20 opener in Christchurch last month, New Zealand's bowlers have preached the need to implement strict plans against him.

But yet again those strategies came to nought as Sehwag remorselessly added to his brisk 77 in Napier and a 54 in Wellington that was only ended by an umpiring error.

He lost his middle stump for three in Christchurch on Sunday but rarely had an anxious moment under lights as he and Gautam Gambhir (63) amassed a 201 for the first wicket in 23.3 overs -- the most by an Indian opening combination against New Zealand.

They also share the allcomers' first wicket record against New Zealand established by Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga at Napier in 2006.

India, now 3-0 up in the five-match series, were surging towards a revised target of 220 from 36 overs when the fifth weather delay ended New Zealand's torment -- at least until the final ODI at Eden Park on Saturday.

With all wickets intact and a massive 84 runs ahead on the Duckworth/Lewis calculations, India always had their destiny under control.

Vettori even quipped his side would probably have needed 500 to defend the mood Sehwag was in.

Sehwag, who clubbed his first ODI century from 70 balls against New Zealand in Sri Lanka eight years ago, agreed Vettori's options had posed few problems so far.

"It's hard for them to stop me scoring runs," he smiled.

"They bowl into my body but I'm still playing my hook and flick shot and getting boundaries. There is no other way they can bowl at me."

He figured the only shot he mistimed when the lofted straight drive for six off Vettori that brought up three figures.

The 30-year-old blitzed his 11th ODI hundred off 60 deliveries -- to make him ODI cricket's fastest Indian.

He pipped former captain Mohammad Azharuddin's 62-ball effort against New Zealand at Baroda in 1988, and for good measure he also took ownership of the quickest limited overs century scored in New Zealand.

Former record holder Craig McMillan, who cracked a match-winning 67-ball ton against the Australians on the same wicket block in 2007, was at the ground to see his achievement surpassed -- and he was probably grateful not to feature in an attack that seemed powerless to contain the dasher from Delhi.

Vettori, Sehwag's IPL Twenty20 teammate at the Delhi Daredevils, confessed at this stage the task appears beyond them.

"We just haven't an answer to Sehwag and that's going to be the difference between the sides until we do that," he said.

"He played exceptionally well, we probably bowled a little bit better than we have but it's still not good enough to compete against him."

Vettori enviously described Sehwag's ability to put the opposition off their game, a strength clearly evident last night.

Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram and debutant Ewen Thompson all conceded more than 10 an over as Sehwag clouted 14 boundaries and a half dozen sixes.

Gambhir also played a pivotal supporting role ticking the runs over and rotating the strike for Sehwag, an indication of what might unfold when the duo open in the tests.

New Zealand's selection panel announce their initial test squad tomorrow but Sehwag is already on record doubting the bowling mix will be capable of dismissing India twice.

Asked if New Zealand was capable of taking 20 wickets, he shook his head: "If it's a good wicket, I don't think so."

NZPA

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