Cricket: Cairns blasts century in 75 balls

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CHRIS CAIRNS hammered the fifth fastest one-day century in history to guide New Zealand to an emphatic 70-run win over India in Christchurch.

Cairns, after surviving a caught behind appeal on 51, hit 115 and helped New Zealand to 300 for 8 off their 50 overs. India crashed from a promising start to 230 all out in 45.3 overs and the one-day series finished at 2-2.

Playing in his 100th one-day match in front of 15,000 people, Cairns hit his second limited- overs century in 75 balls and 99 minutes and it included five fours and six sixes.

"I got a great reception when I came to the wicket and it was great to repay them," said Cairns. "It was my day out there and I'm glad to have taken advantage of it. I got on a roll out there and I got to 97 and I thought I would try and milk it and get the ton."

When he was finally dismissed, Cairns had played the significant part in New Zealand scoring 121 off the last 10 overs. He was fortunate to escape being given out caught behind on 51 to what appeared a clear edge off the medium pacer Robin Singh. The Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, reacted by throwing the ball into the ground and the Indians did not applaud his hundred or when he left the field. Cairns had another let-off when dropped on 75 by Nikhil Chopra but after that went on the rampage.

The fastest one-day hundred belongs to Pakistan's Shahid Alfridi, who took 37 balls against Sri Lanka in Nairobi in 1996-97.

India momentarily threatened New Zealand's total when their openers Saurav Ganguly and Ajay Jadeja added 50 in 47 balls. But when Ganguly was out for 60 in 50 balls, the run-rate slowed and wickets fell at regular intervals.

Azharuddin gave his side a glimmer of hope in the middle of the innings with a fine knock of 63, but he was unable to find the boundary on enough occasions. When Azharuddin was seventh out for 63 with India's total on 202 the innings disintegrated.

The medium pace bowler Chris Harris was chief beneficiary in the closing overs, picking up three late wickets to end with 4 for 40 off 9.3 overs.

FIFTH ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL (Christchurch) New Zealand 300-8 (50 overs, C L Cairns 115, R G Twose 63.

India 230 (43.5 overs, S C Ganguly 60; C Harris 4-40).

RESULT: New Zealand win by 70 runs. Series level 2-2.

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