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Kiwis lose a thriller

Faisal Shariff | November 03, 2003 14:05 IST
Last Updated: November 03, 2003 18:03 IST

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New Zealand lost a thrilling last-over tri-series battle against arch-rivals Australia by two wickets,at the Nehru Stadium in Pune on Monday.

The Kiwi fielders dropped too many catches as Australia successfully chased a stiff target of 259, getting the winning runs off the penultimate ball of the match.

Andrew Symonds, who was reprieved by Lou Vincent when on one, hit the winning run.

Darryl Tuffey was the most successful New Zealand bowler, picking four Australian wickets.

New Zealand innings

The Trans-Tasmanian rivalry was in full swing. For the second time in the series, the Aussie bowlers had half the New Zealand side back in the hutch inside the first 15 overs and yet the Kiwis managed to seta challenging target of 259.

Jacob Oram, with a ferocious 81, and wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, with a 47-ball 51, put up a crucial partnership of 68 runs in 55 balls for the eighth-wicket as New Zealand ended at 258 for 9.

With moisture in the air, Brad Williams swung the ball with the curl of a comma and the top-order batsmen folded up like a club side.

Seamer Ian Harvey swapped places with left-arm spinner Brad Hogg following the fine showing ofbatting all-rounder Michael Clarke, whopicked four wickets for 42 with his slow left-armers in the victoryover India in Mumbai on Saturday.

For New Zealand, all-rounder Chris Cairns recovered from a hamstring strain and replaced paceman Paul Hitchcock.

Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming was nervous about the toss, on a wicket that was flat and green. Half an hour into the match he sure had many more reasons to be anxious.

Winning the toss, Australia elected to bowl and expose the edgy Kiwi batting. In the fourth over of the innings Brad Williams claimed his first victim, trapping Chris Nevin in front for a duck. (3-1)

Lou Vincent disappointed yet again. Williams sent down an unplayable ball that pitched a shade outside off and curled towards Vincent, who was forced to play at it. The ball took the edge and flew to Ricky Ponting at second slip. (10-2)

Williams struck again in the same over, with the ball rapping Scott Styris bang in front of the wickets. Another wicket, another duck. (11-3)

Watching helplessly from the other end, Fleming finally hit New Zealand's first boundary in the seventh over off Bracken. But Williams was not finished. In his next over, he knocked Craig McMillan's off-stump out of the ground. (21-4)

Another shortened match beckoned with four Kiwi wickets gone before the opening bowlers had finished their opening spells.

Cairns joined Fleming and the two set about darning the torn Kiwi innings. The Aussies, who sent down dozens of wides, helped the Kiwi innings. Fleming and Cairns managed just six singles even as New Zealand recovered to 59-4 at the end of the 14th over.

Williams returned figures of 4 wickets for 26 runs in his opening spell with majority of his runs in wides.

Cairns was severe on first change bowler Andy Bichel, belting him for a couple of boundaries before falling leg before to him for a breezy 29-ball 27. The 47-run partnership of 45 balls between the two ensured that the Kiwis maintained a healthy run rate despite losing wickets regularly. (68-5)

Had Ian Harvey held on to a sharp chance from Fleming when on 18, New Zealand's worries would have increased exponentially.

In the 20th over, Fleming shaped to turn a good length Harvey delivery, pitched on middle and leg, to the on side and only managed to get a leading edge back to the bowler. Harvey got his fingertips to the ball but failed to latch into it.

Comic relief was provided in the middle when Oram was struck on the groin from a Harvey delivery. With Oram taking a fair amount of time to face the next ball, umpire David Shepherd screamed "just one ball left", much to the amusement of Oram.

Fleming played cautiously while Oram clubbed the bowlers mercilessly, smashing three boundaries of Andrew Symonds in one over. The Fleming-Oram partnership added 62 runs before Fleming holed out looking to up the momentum. Fleming pulled Symonds to the mid-wicket fence and offered Harvey a simple skier. More than Fleming's 40 runs, the 96 balls that he braved since morning when the ball was doing everything except talk helped what was to be a valiant Kiwi fightback.

Brad Williams was reintroduced into the attack and Ponting got it bang on when he had Chris Harris dismissed for one. (151-7)

And just when the Aussies believed that it was a job well done, their Trans-Tasmanian rivals roared right back.

In McCullum, Oram found the perfect partner to attack the tiring Aussie bowlers. McCullum flicked a weary Williams for a huge six and then followed it up with successive boundaries in the next over.

Oram scored his half-century off 53 balls and McCullum, at the other end, batted as if he had a point to prove. For a number nine to bat with such flair and fluidity exhibits the depth in the Kiwi batting.

Symonds, who had earlier sent down a beamer that crashed into Oram's ribs, dismissed Oram for 81.

The Kiwis got 44 runs in the five overs between the 41st and the 45th over.

Daniel Vettori and McCullum sustained the assault, playing sensible cricket instead of swinging across the line. McCullum perfected the Marillier shot --- scooping the ball over the keeper and made the Aussies pay for their 32 wides. It meant that the Aussies had to bowl five more overs in the hot conditions with just a day's rest. McCullum got his half-century off 46 balls, studded with six fours and a six.

The last ten overs cost 80 runs with the last five Kiwi batsmen scoring 152 runs out of a total of 258-9.

Australia innings

Australia got off to yet another flying start in the series, courtesy Adam Gilchrist. A friend had joked: 'If you want to make a bad wicket look good, ask Gilchrist to bat on it.' How true!

Dispatching Darryl Tuffey to fence twice in the first over of the innings, Gilchrist was a man in a hurry. Tuffey adjusted his length after that initial over and dried up the boundaries only for Jacob Oram to leak the tap from the other end. Marching along at six an over, the Aussie opener raced to 34 in the seventh over before using up his fortune cookie for the game. Shaping to play Tuffey inside out, he only managed to scoop the ball high in the air for a simple catch to Vettori at mid-off for 25.

Hayden's mediocre form continued. A brute of a delivery squared the burly left-hander up, forcing him to edge the ball to Styris at second slip.

Three overs later Damien Martyn, played an extravagant shot off Tuffey with his feet stuck to the crease and dragged the ball onto his stumps.

At 54-3 the Aussies were under pressure, still 205 runs away from victory.

Tuffey bowled with remarkable accuracy and discipline in his opening spell of seven overs which cost 25 runs. He bowled 37 balls in the good length area and seven short of length but not once did he over-pitch or allow the batters any driving length.

Styris failed with the bat but made his contribution to the team by clean bowling Ponting, who played across the line, for 16, as Australia plunged to 65-4 in the 15th over.

Michael Clarke joined Michael Bevan and a flurry of boundaries kept the Aussies in the hunt despite the loss of four early wickets. Clarke, in particular, announced his aggressive intentions by stepping out to Vettori and sending him to the fence and out of the attack after just two overs.

The introduction of Christ Harris pulled back the scoring pace of the two Michaels as the boundaries dried up. Bevan, realising that the shackles had to be broken, stepped out and sent Harris over the ropes for a huge six.

Tuffey finally got New Zealand the much-needed breakthrough as Clarke dragged the ball on to his stumps for 70 runs off 80 balls. At 173-5 in the 35th over, the Kiwis were still in the game with the Aussies requiring another 86 runs required for victory.

The 108-run partnership between Clarke and Bevan set the stage for the final Aussie assault. Tuffey returned figures of 30-4 off his 10 overs.

In what was to prove as the turning point of the match, Vincent dropped Symonds off Cairns with the score reading 176-5. Symonds was on one at that point. His unbeaten 37 proved to be the innings that saw Australia home.

In the 42nd over, Bevan reached his 43rd half-century as the game turned Australia's way. But much more was in store as Cairns dismissed him to tilt the balance yet again. Bowling from round the wicket, Cairns angled the ball into Bevan, who shaped to pull and only got a top edge, which Harris swallowed at point. (204-6)

With 28 to win off 24 balls, Harvey hit Vettori straight to Styris at mid-off as Australia lost another wicket with the score 231 for 7.

Vettori and Oram gave away just seven runs in the next two overs, forcing the Aussies to get 21 off the last two overs.

Fleming persisted with Vettori's slow turners and Bichel, stepping down the wicket, sent the ball to the long-off fence for a boundary.

A quicker delivery, turning towards leg, found Bichel's edge brilliantly taken by keeper McCullum. Australia was 244-8 and still required another 15 runs off the next nine balls.

Brad Williams ran a quick single to give Symonds the strike and that was all Symonds wanted. The next ball was struck for a four to the long off fence and then, dancing down the wicket, he struck the last ball of the over past the long off fence.

Seventeen runs of the Vettori over ended the contest, leaving Australia another four runs from the last over.

Oram gave just two runs of the first three balls. He forced Brad Williams swing at the ball and get an edge that flew to the keeper, however, who messed up the chance.

Then, with scores level, Symonds hit Oram straight to the mid-wicket fielder, who also dropped the catch.

Australia won the game by two wickets and made sure of a place in the finals with 18 points.

New Zealand's catching let them down. Despite Fleming's brilliant captaincy he rang in excellent bowling changes -- the Kiwis floundered yet again against the Australians.

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Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: Playing for winning

Unlike Indian team at Wankhede, New Zealand team looked like they were playing to win the match. Especially their tail-ender batsmen, taking the score to ...

Posted by Sameer

Sub: Fixed match!

I am not sure. If you had watched closely in the end it looked very obvious NZ wanted to lose. So many dolly dropped catches ...

Posted by Muralidhar Rao

Sub: Kiwis Loose a Thriller courtsey Match Referry

It was good to see the Aussies batting in deep to ensure that they win this game. But it also must be noted they bowled ...

Posted by Saurabh Paranjape


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