New Zealand ease to 39-run win

New Zealanders 246 for 8 (Vincent 59, Fleming 52) beat MCA President's XI 207 (Sharma 61) by 39 runs

Stephen Fleming and Lou Vincent both scored half-centuries as New Zealand eased to a 39-run win in their Champions Trophy warm-up match against Mumbai at the MIG ground today. Vincent top-scored with 59 while Fleming scored 52 as New Zealand were given a good workout ahead of their opening fixture against South Africa on Monday.

Mumbai's spirited performance in the field left them needing a target of 247, and for a while they made a fist of it, with Rohit Sharma's half-century leading the way. However, they fell short due to the lack of sizeable partnerships and were eventually bowled out for 207.

Earlier the Mumbai opening bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Avishkar Salvi, failed to get the early breakthroughs as Fleming and Vincent capitalised on some wayward fare. Fleming was particularly harsh on anything straying towards his pads, as he reached his half century at over a run-a-ball, with eight fours and two sixes.

As was the case in South Africa's practice match the previous day, the spinners played their part as soon as they were introduced and put a lid on the scoring. Fleming gave the charge to Aniket Redkar, the offspinner, and was neatly stumped by Vinayak Samanth, while Nathan Astle failed to come to grips with the turn, and was bowled by Redkar, attempting to cut.

Vincent fell soon afterwards as well, castled by Nilesh Kulkarni, the left-arm spinner, as he attempted to sweep against the turn. Peter Fulton's run-out was a result of some agile fielding at mid wicket and sloppy calling and at 139 for 4, New Zealand were in need of some consolidation.

Hamish Marshall and Scott Styris provided the glue as they added 47 for the fifth wicket, milking the spinners instead of using the long handle. Zaheer, after an unimpressive opening spell, returned to dismiss Styris, driving on the up to mid-off, while Kulkarni continued to hold one end up, mixing his length beautifully and teasing the batsmen with clever variations.

Mumbai began defensively and the openers allowed the pressure to build, progressing at barely two runs an over until Marshall took a brilliant catch to his left at point to dismiss the becalmed Sahil Kukreja. In his place came Sharma, widely regarded as a future Test prospect, who injected some life into the innings with some sparkling boundaries off Styris.

Sharma impressed with his technique and timing, and his 42-run stand for the fifth wicket with Bhavin Thakkar evened things up a bit. Sharma reached his half-century in style, slog-sweeping Jeetan Patel over mid wicket for six. However, Patel had his revenge, trapping Sharma lbw for a well-compiled 61.

Thereafter, Mumbai lost the plot, save for a last-ditch effort by Abhishek Nair, who fetched himself a few boundaries and a huge six over midwicket. Mark Gillespie, the fast bowler, claimed three wickets towards the end after getting a bit of stick from Nair.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the match, John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, was glad that New Zealand were able to find their groove, especially after a long lay-off from the game. He also defended the management's decision to rest Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram, and added that they would play in the next warm-up game against Baroda tomorrow.

"We're definitely pleased that we were able to test ourselves against a quality opposition like Mumbai," Bracewell said. "It was a bit of a reunion for all the guys, exchanging stories about their experiences in England and Australia. Today's outing was very useful indeed."

Bracewell singled out Redkar's performance and admitted that the Mumbai spinners and the heat tested them out a bit. "I thought the spinners exposed us a little, especially the offspinner [Redkar]. The extensive heat was another factor, and after the winter, this was pretty much like stepping from a fridge into an oven."

Kulkarni, the Mumbai captain, admitted that his side let it slip, as a collective effort from the batsmen was required. He also praised Sharma for his contribution.

"We lacked partnerships and Sharma could have used a bit more support from the rest. I thought Sharma's was a brilliant innings and are really looking forward to having him with us this season."