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NZ fire on back of Elliott, Ronchi tons

New Zealanders 373 for 5 (Elliott 106*, Ronchi 106*, Taylor 77) beat Leicestershire 175 (Robson 67, McClenaghan 4-31) by 198 runs
Scorecard

A week ago Grant Elliott was playing for Leicestershire but on Saturday at Grace Road he took a hundred off them as he found top gear ahead of the one-day series against England. Both he and Luke Ronchi, who continued the form he showed on his Test debut, finished unbeaten on 106 in a mammoth sixth-wicket stand of 221 in 25 overs, which propelled the New Zealanders to 373 for 5 and was more than enough for a canter to victory.

Elliott brought up his hundred, off 78 balls, in the final over with a straight six; for Ronchi the milestone took 71 deliveries, the pair having come together with the visitors at a less convincing 152 for 5. Ross Taylor also spent useful time in the middle as he made 77 off 62 balls including four sixes after both openers, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill, fell cheaply to the impressive Atif Sheikh.

The New Zealanders' top five in this match will be the top five for the first ODI at Edgbaston on Tuesday, while Ronchi is settled at No. 7 in the one-day side. Corey Anderson is expected to be available for selection after the back injury which ruled him out of the second Test - he was close to playing against Leicestershire - while Nathan McCullum is likely to replace the retired Daniel Vettori if he overcomes a groin niggle which kept him out of this match, although Mitchell Santner produced a promising spell of left-arm spin in which he got the ball to grip.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult were rested here following their Test workloads but will soon resume their destructive combination. At the end of the World Cup they were supported by Matt Henry, who would be unfortunate to lose his place although Mitchell McClenaghan returned figures of 4 for 31 in Leicestershire's innings.

The inexperienced home side - which contained three players on List A debut and for whom Umar Akmal provided 153 of the 247 one-day matches accrued in total - barely made an impression on the target. Akmal's short stay was entertaining as he took on the New Zealand quicks before hooking to deep square and Angus Robson's impressive form continued with a maiden one-day fifty. McClenaghan, Henry and Ben Wheeler all generated good pace, operating at times with five slips.

The stand between Elliott and Ronchi was not far off matching their world-record sixth-wicket partnership of 267 against Sri Lanka in Dunedin during January. Barring Sheikh, the left-armer making his List A debut, there was friendly bowling to feast on but the cleanness of the striking still stood out, especially from Ronchi, who enjoyed peppering the leg-side boundary and also drove strikingly through the off side - both features of the 88 he made at Headingley in the second Test.

He was given two lives, the first on 49 when Ollie Freckingham spilled a simple chance at deep square-leg off Akmal's rarely seen offspin (he had previously bowled just nine overs in one-day cricket), then Akmal was the culprit himself - again at deep square - when Ronchi was 84, although this was a much tougher chance which he had to run forward for.

Generally the standard of Leicestershire's fielding was disappointing - McCullum and Taylor were also dropped - although in some mitigation this match was sandwiched between two more important fixtures; Friday night's T20 and the Championship match against Surrey which starts on Sunday, while also following the four-day game against Essex which marked their first Championship win since 2012.

However, there was one notable - and outstanding - exception to the fumbles when Ned Eckersley, captain for this match, pulled off a stunning catch at short extra cover, diving to his right, to intercept Kane Williamson's well-struck dive.

The onslaught by Elliott and Ronchi left for some painful bowling figures - Tom Wells conceded 98 and Freckingham 86. At one stage, Wells was taken for four, six, four, four from consecutive deliveries by Taylor although had the satisfaction of ending the streak by having Taylor caught behind.

Sheikh did not bowl his full quota of 10 overs despite being head-and-shoulders above the rest of an inexperienced attack which included former England Under-19 offspinner Rob Sayer, also on his debut. A strapping left-armer, Sheikh generated eye-catching pace and could be proud of his first two wickets in one-day cricket.

McCullum, having returned to scything mode after a more measured second innings at Headingley, carved one boundary over the off side but Sheikh found his outside edge with an excellent delivery angled across him. Then Martin Guptill, who will resume the World Cup opening combination alongside the captain in the one-day series, dragged into his stumps. Sheikh ended his first spell with figures of 5-0-18-2 and would later return to trap Mitchell Santner lbw, although that wicket proved a double-edged sword for Leicestershire: it brought together Ronchi and Elliott.

Leics 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st16AJ RobsonLJ Hill
2nd13EJH EckersleyAJ Robson
3rd45Umar AkmalAJ Robson
4th10ND PinnerAJ Robson
5th17AJ RobsonTJ Wells
6th10AJ RobsonAM Ali
7th6AJ RobsonOH Freckingham
8th16A SheikhAJ Robson
9th35A SheikhRJ Sayer
10th7JS SykesRJ Sayer