Mumbai: New Zealand secured a World Cup quarterfinal spot on Sunday with Brendon McCullum posting 101 and Ross Taylor bludgeoning 74 from 44 balls in a lopsided 97-run win over Canada.
Now the New Zealanders lead Group A with eight points and are aiming to finish No. 1 in a pool containing three teams which have won the last five World Cup titles.
Opener McCullum's well-timed century was his first in 22 World Cup matches, while stand-in skipper Taylor clobbered a bowling attack for the second successive match. The seventh-wicket pair combined for 31 runs in the last over from Rizwan Cheema as New Zealand reached 358 for six after being sent in to bat — their second-highest World Cup total after the 363-5 they set against Canada four years ago.
Needing to score at seven an over, the Canadians lost their first two wickets for four runs — Kyle Mills having both Ruvindu Gunasekera (2) and Zubin Surkari (1) caught by Taylor at slip before he left the field with a strained thigh muscle. He didn't return to the field in the only concern for the Kiwis on Sunday.
Skipper Ashish Bagai restored some pride, scoring 84 from 87 balls to help lift his team to 261-9 after sharing partnerships of 46 with No. 3 Hiral Patel (31) and 125 with No. 5 Jimmy Hansra to take the score to 175-4. Hansra retired with cramp on 53, then returned to finish unbeaten on 70 as Canada posted its highest total of the tournament.
The 19-year-old Patel swatted a six and hit five boundaries before he was caught behind off Jacob Oram, who returned the best bowling figures for New Zealand at 3-47.
McCullum shared stands of 53 with Martin Guptill (17) and 96 with Jesse Ryder (38) for the first two wickets, stroking 12 boundaries and two sixes in his first World Cup century before he was out in the 37th over, hitting medium pacer Hanvir Baidwan directly to extra cover as he tried to lift the run-rate.
In a stunning onslaught that immediately followed, Taylor contributed 51 runs to a fourth-wicket partnership that produced 69 runs in 4.1 overs — including fours sixes and a boundary in one over from Baidwan that went for 28 runs.
Buoyed by his 131 in the 110-run win over Pakistan last Tuesday and relishing the extra responsibility as captain with Daniel Vettori out with an injured right knee, Taylor was devastating in the batting powerplay.
He flighted the first two balls of the 39th over the midwicket boundary, faced a dot-ball, then hoisted another six over the square leg fence before his innings very nearly came to an end with another mighty clout — Cheema caught the ball on the long-on boundary but stepped over the rope in the process, giving Taylor another six.
Just for good measure, Taylor hit the last ball to the boundary to lift New Zealand to 220-3.
He was eventually out mistiming an attempted drive against Bilaji Rao and getting a thick edge to Hansra, who took an excellent catch diving forward from backward point.
Rao then dismissed Nathan McCullum (10) with the first ball of his next over as New Zealand wobbled from 254-3 to 259-5, but Scott Styris (35) and World Cup rookie Kane Williamson (34 not out) put on 59 runs from 35 balls to lift the five-time World Cup semifinalists to 318-6 after 48 overs.
James Franklin joined Williamson and took up the charge, blazing an unbeaten 31 from eight balls including two boundaries and three sixes. The last over from Cheema stretched to eight balls, including a no-ball and a wide — and was the third most costly over in ODI history. Herschelle Gibbs scored six sixes in one over against Netherlands at the last World Cup and Shahid Afridi hit two boundaries and four sixes in a 32-run over against Sri Lanka in 2007.
Baidwan was the leading Canadian wicket taker with 3-84 from 9.1 overs, while Balaji Rao returned 2-62.
The Canadians were always up against it, having lost heavily in their first three games before beating Kenya by five wickets, but did surpass the 199-5 against Kenya as their best innings of the tournament.The match started ominously for them, with Khurram Chohan bowling three wides in the first four balls. In another costly piece of sloppy discipline, John Davison was run out at the non-striker's end by wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum's direct hit as the experienced Candian all-rounder was ambling out of his ground with his back turned.
The Canadians next play four-time champion Australia on Wednesday at Bangalore, while New Zealand remains in Mumbai for a meeting with Sri Lanka on Friday which could determine top spot in the group.