Colombo:A disciplined India spanked New Zealand by six wickets in a drab low-scoring match to book a berth in Monday's final against Sri Lanka, while shoving the Kiwis out of the cricket tri-series here tonight. With this win, India have topped the ODI ranking charts to become No. 1 ODI team in the world for the first time.
In a dull match bereft of significant batting pyrotechnics, India showed impeccable discipline to chase down the modest 156-run victory target with aplomb and nearly 10 overs to spare.
For them, Sachin Tendulkar (46), Suresh Raina (45 not out) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (35 not out) came up with useful knocks as they cruised to 156 for four in 40.3 overs, sending the Kiwis out of the tournament after their second successive defeat.
Opting to bat first in the must-win game, New Zealand had earlier folded for 155 in 46.3 overs with Ashish Nehra (3/24) and Yuvraj Singh (3/31) moving down the top and middle order. Skipper Daniel Vettori top scored with 25, while Jacob Oram contributed 24.
For India, the target was not intimidating but the conditions did not ideal for the stroke-makers and runs were not easy to come by.
Depleted by the absence of regular openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, India sent Dinesh Karthik to open the innings with Tendulkar but the ploy did not click. Kyle Mills trapped Karthik (4) in the third over even though the ball seemed missing the leg stump.
Tendulkar and comeback man Rahul Dravid added 60 runs to calm the nerves but the run rate was nothing home to write about.
Dravid's ODI return did not prove memorable as he fell to Jacob Oram after a 45-ball 14.
Tendulkar, however, looked at ease and inching towards a well-deserved half-century when he chipped a Daniel Vettori delivery to the cover field and fell four-run shy of the mark. Tendulkar's 55-ball knock that had six fours in it.
Next man in Yuvraj Singh (8) opened his account with a four but miscued a slog-sweep to become Vettori's second victim, leaving India at 84 for four.
Dhoni and Raina played sensible cricket, shunning risk but occasionally freeing their arms, to see India home with an unbeaten 72-run stand.
In a match conspicuous by the paucity of big shots, Raina hit two sixes, apart from three fours, in his 54-ball knock. Earlier, Yuvraj and Nehra scalped three wickets apiece as India skittled out New Zealand for a modest 155 in 46.3 overs on a spongy track.
Electing to bat, the Kiwis could never really recover from the early jolts and folded on a tricky Premadasa track.
New Zealand, who desperately needed a win to remain in contention in the series, could not get a single decent partnership going as wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals in the floodlit contest.
Nehra and Yuvraj were the pick of the Indian bowlers while R P Singh and Ishant Sharma chipped in with two wickets apiece.
As many as five New Zealand batsmen got into the 20s but none of them could make it really big and bail the team out. The Kiwi innings could not have started on a more disastrous note as Nehra trapped the scoreless Jesse Ryder with the third delivery of the innings.
The Kiwis suffered another jolt when Brendon McCullum (3) also fell a victim to Nehra in his next over, reducing New Zealand to a precarious four for two in their must-win game. With this dismissal, Nehra, back in international cricket after four years in the wilderness, registered his 100th ODI scalp.
After Nehra had rocked the Kiwis innings by getting rid of both the openers, R P Singh struck for his team by plotting the dismissal of Ross Taylor that left the Black Caps tottering at 19 for three.
Martin Guptill (22) and Grant Elliot (22) tried to steady the innings and put on 32 runs for the fourth wicket before Yuvraj removed both to deal a deadly blow.