Dambulla:Virender Sehwag slammed a swashbuckling century as India recovered from early jolts to post 223 in their must-win cricket tri-series match against New Zealand here on Wednesday.
Sehwag (110) notched up his 13th ODI century to give the Indian innings some respectibility after being at a precarious 66 for four at one stage on a tricky pitch at the Rangiri International stadium.
Barring Sehwag, none of the other Indian batsmen could really get going though captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38) played a good supporting role.
Tim Southee (4/49) was the pick of the Kiwis bowlers though he was a trifle expensive spinner Nathan McCullum (3/35) and Kyle Mills (2/42) were the other wicket-taking bowlers.
The Indian innings began on a disastrous note with Dinesh Karthik, who has been in woeful form right through the series, returning to the pavilion in the very first over off Kyle Mills.
It was a horrendous shot from the Indian opener as he poked at a length delivery outside the off stump, edging it to wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins behind the stump. He paid the price for fishing out even without getting his eye in.
Virat Kohli, who replaced Rohit Sharma in the team, joined the action after Karthik's dismissal but could not survive long, being at the receiving end of a dubious decision.
Kohli (8) looked stunned when Sri Lankan umpire Ashoka de Silva gave him out when he edged an outgoing delivery off Tim Southee to wicketkeeper Hopkins. Television replays picked up some noise and the snickometer showed there was a slight nick.
Despite the early losses, Sehwag showed his customary flamboyance as he unleashed a flurry of strokes and scored the runs at a brisk pace.
Sehwag was particularly severe on Mills as he clobbered him for two consecutive boundaries and then hammered Southee for a couple of boundaries.
During the course of the innings, Sehwag became the seventh batsmen in ODIs to hit 1000 boundaries. The record of hitting the most number of boundaries in ODIs is held by Sachin Tendulkar who has 1927 boundaries.
The Indians suffered a big jolt when Yuvraj Singh (6) also perished in the 12th over to a poor shot with Andy McKay being the wicket-taker. Yuvraj attempted a pull shot but his balance was all awry and he only managed to top edge the ball for the wicketkeeper to latch on to a superb catch.
The ball climbed just below chest high and Yuvraj tried to pull it from well outside off stump which accounted for his wicket.
It was then Suresh Raina's turn to return to the pavilion and the Indians found themselves in the doldrums at a precarious 66 for four by the 13th over.
Raina, who has always been vulnerable to shirt pitched deliveries, paid the price for a faulty pull to a ball that was not too short.
Raina was quick to get on to the back foot but pulled it to short midwicket fielder Kane Williamson who dived to his right to take a good catch.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sehwag tried to steady the innings by playing cautiously and punishing only the loose deliveries.
Both gradually accelerated the pace of scoring after getting a feel of the conditions and the measure of the rather spongy track at the Rangiri International stadium.
Sehwag took a single off spinner Williamson to complete his 13th ODI century which came off just 87 balls.
Spinner Nathan McCullum brought an end to the 107-run fifth wicket partnership by evicting the dangerous Sehwag soon after he completed his century, much to the relief of his teammates.
Sehwag holed out at deep midwicket as a tried to pick McCullum's flighted delivery from outside off and swung it straight to the fielder. His knock of 110 came off just 93 ball and was laced with 16 boundaries and a six.
Ravindra Jadeja (17) fell immediately after Dhoni's departure and Ashish Nehra did not survive long either, hastening the end of the Indian innings.
Flummoxed by bounce off a Southee delivery, Jadeja handed an easy catch to Ross Taylor while Nehra's was a soft caught and bowled dismissal of Nathan McCullum.