Canada v New Zealand, Group C, St Lucia March 22, 2007

New Zealand click in to shape

New Zealand 363 for 5 (Vincent 101, Fleming 66, McCullum 52*) beat Canada 249 (Davison 52, Billcliff 52) by 114 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary

Fearless striking from Davison, but all for nothing © AFP

A thoroughly professional performance from New Zealand, has given Stephen Fleming's side a useful confidence boost ahead of the Super Eight stage of the World Cup, with a convincing 114-run win over Canada in a dead rubber in St Lucia. The manner of their victory, and the intent showed from their batsmen, was almost Australian in its ruthlessness.

One slight area of concern coming into today's match was the form of their top-order and, in particular, that of their opener Lou Vincent. He answered it emphatically with a majestic 101, a match-winning innings littered with aggression and bold counterattacking strokes. Allied with his brilliant fielding - at point, mid-on and elsewhere in the infield during Canada's innings - his class shone through, at a useful time too.

The ease with which he struck his nine fours was in stark contrast to the obvious discomfort and nerves he suffered in the opening overs, when Anderson Cummins and Umar Bhatti were moving the ball around considerably, often past his outside edge. The poking and wafting outside his off stump clearly wasn't working: an emphatic six over extra cover got his feet moving, and altered his mindset. From then on, it was all New Zealand as they motored past 350, their highest in World Cups, stamping their authority on the match and sending a warning note to the sides in the Super Eights.

Vincent wasn't alone, either. He and Fleming shared an opening stand of 142, in which Fleming cruised effortlessly to 66 at almost a run-a-ball. The combination of Fleming's front-foot driving and Vincent's back-foot play (and general audacity) was so dominant - especially against such mediocre bowling - that no one was spared. Likewise Peter Fulton was slick in his 47, but when Vincent fell in the 43rd over at 278 for 5, there was every chance New Zealand's momentum might slip.

Lou Vincent has found form at just the right time © AFP

It didn't, thanks to a breathless last seven overs in which Brendon McCullum and Jacob Oram put on 85. McCullum's fearlessness humbled an already miserable Canadian attack as he feasted on bowling which lacked direction, discipline and courage. Five sixes later, three of which sailed over midwicket, he brought up the quickest World Cup fifty from an indecently meagre 20 balls. It was also the fastest half-century by a New Zealander in one-dayers.

Canada refused to be ignored, though, in this their final match of the World Cup. A rousing fifty of breathless audacity from John Davison, their captain and only match-winner, lifted the crowd and even, momentarily at least, sunk New Zealand's shoulders.

Fourteen fearless runs from the opening over got Canada rolling, but it was Tuffey's opening partner, Michael Mason, who handed Davison a free licence. A back-foot cut for four; another past point; the third flicked behind square followed by a zinging smite through mid-off. After five overs, Canada had flown to 52 without loss. While Davison was on the attack his opening partner, Geoff Barnett - no stranger to many of the opposition having played for Central Districts - was no less purposeful, if lacking the gift of timing Davison has in abundance.

But the big fish, Davison, fell in the following over when he skied Mason straight back to the bowler. His delight rather suggested the match was as good as closed, but to their credit Canada didn't just roll over. An adhesive 50 from Ian Billcliff followed a rather sedate 37 from Ashish Bagai before Jeetan Patel wrapped things up in a hurry with 3 for 25.

And all this without the tournament's most potent fast bowler, Shane Bond, who was today rested. New Zealand are looking in good shape.

Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo