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Suresh Raina guides India to 162

Source - financialexpress.com

Suresh Raina struck a rollicking unbeaten 61 as India recovered from a mid-innings slump to post a competitive 162 for eight against New Zealand in the first Twenty20 cricket match in Christchurch on Wednesday.

Put in to bat, India made a flying start with Virender Sehwag clobbering three sixes in the very first over but lost the script to find themselves in a precarious position at 61 for five.

A late onslaught Raina and Harbhajan Singh (21) not only helped the team to come out of the tight corner but also put up a competitive score on the board.

New Zealand now need to score at 8.15 runs per over to take 1-0 lead in the two-match T20 series. Raina and Harbhajan put on vital 61-runs for the eighth wicket to bring India back in the match.

The visitors had made their intentions clear right from the first ball as Gautam Gambhir charged up to pitch from the first ball of match but it was Virender Sehwag who began the onslaught.

The Delhi marauder made an incredible start, mercilessly hitting Tim Southee for three sixes -- all on leg-side – in the first three balls he faced, giving India 19 runs from the first over.

Gambhir opened up with a furious cover drive off Iain O' Brian but missed the next one, which uprooted his middle stump. But it has no impact Sehwag, who lofted Ian Butler over the long-off for his fourth six.

However, Brien began the Indian slide, castling Gambhir (6) and Sehwag in successive overs, leaving the innings in tatters.

Rohit Sharma (7), Yuvraj Singh (1) and Mahedra Singh Dhoni fell in a quick succession as India stuttered to 61 for five in eight overs.

It took some lusty hitting by Suresh Raina, who hit five sixes and two fours, and Yusuf Pathan, who made 20 with three sixes to pull India back into the game.

But an astounding catch by Jacob Oram on the ropes at long-on cut what could have been an entertaining innings by Yusuf.

Yusuf had struck three successive sixes off Nathan McCullum in the 10th over when an attempted fourth six which seemed to sail over the ropes, was plucked out of the air by the gangling Oram.

Sensing that he would step over the ropes, he popped the ball into the play, went over the ropes while pushing the ball into field and in jiffy stepped back into the playing area to complete the catch.

Yusuf couldn't believe his eyes, but Oram, celebrated his return to international cricket, with a stunner which raised the bar of New Zealand’s fielding, regarded to be the best in World cricket.

At 82 for six India were deep in doldrums but Raina, who struck five towering sixes with effortless ease, found allies in Irfan Pathan (12) and Harbhajan Singh.

Brien and Ian Butler claimed two wickets apiece. Daniel Vettori, regarded as the best left arm spinner in international cricket, did a marvellous job with the ball, conceding a mere 18 runs in four overs.

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