February 14, 2003

New Zealand hopes alive after fine 20-run win

All-rounder Andre Adams was disappointed to miss New Zealand's tour to his parents' West Indies homeland last year but he made up for it with a superb display in the 20-run win over them at the World Cup match in Port Elizabeth today.

New Zealand ripped through the West Indies top-order to take five wickets for 12 runs and to breathe life back into their Cup campaign. Their fielding level was outstanding and revealed a level of commitment significantly higher than in their opening match of the tournament.

Winning was the only option for New Zealand after their loss to Sri Lanka in the opening game, and their refusal to travel to Kenya, but they made life much easier for themselves after reducing the West Indies to 46 for five wickets as they chased 242 for victory.

The crucial blow was the run out of Brian Lara as he attempted to take a third run from Adams' bowling. The ball was run down just short of the mid-wicket boundary by Lou Vincent. He fired the ball to Chris Cairns on the relay throw, and Cairns threw down the wicket with a direct hit and Lara well out of his ground.

The New Zealanders celebrated in style because they knew the value of the left-hander's wicket after his opening match century against South Africa.

Adams proved the destroyer, this despite being hit for three successive boundaries by opener Chris Gayle. When he finished his first spell he had the wickets of Gayle, Wavell Hinds and Carl Hooper for 30 runs.

He then came back and took the last wicket of the match when bowling Mervyn Dillon to end with four for 44 from 9.4 overs.

Ramnaresh Sarwan and Ridley Jacobs ensured the game didn't turn into a rout with a World Cup record stand of 98 for the seventh wicket. They broke Stephen Fleming and Chris Harris' record set against Pakistan at the 1999 World Cup.

Sarwan batted beautifully for his 75 while Jacobs also scored a half-century, but the whole time they were batting they were unable to prevent the run rate required steadily climbing until it was just over nine when Sarwan was bowled by Daniel Vettori.

Jacob Oram did an outstanding job of containment with an accurate, probing spell which saw him pick up the wickets of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ricardo Powell. He ended his 10 overs with two wickets for 26 runs. His catch of Jacobs was a great demonstration of the agility which he brings to the match, having to dive and then correct in order to pull off a startling catch.

Cairns wasn't so fortunate in his return to bowling at international level. His only over went for 21 runs and it included a wide and no-ball.

New Zealand's innings was notable for the lack of panic which so destroyed the side's chase against Sri Lanka in the first match. With the pitch slowing up noticeably during the innings, and the West Indies having to employ part-timers Hinds and Gayle in a dibbly-dobbly-type role, it was clear that the 241 for seven wickets that New Zealand scored was a competitive total, even against the high-powered West Indian batsmen.

Hinds proved the most successful of the West Indies bowlers with his career-best figures of three wickets for 35. Dillon was also a handful with one for 30 from 10 overs.

The sight of Vettori opening the innings was not too surprising, but the sight of Fleming walking out with him rather than Nathan Astle was a shock.

It was a reasonable ploy, considering the high risk factor involved in not having tried it out in recent times. While he had opened many times for his province Northern Districts in New Zealand domestic cricket, Vettori had only once before opened for New Zealand, in a match against South Africa in Singapore.

They put on 42 for the first wicket before Fleming was out on 25 to a caught and bowled chance which Dillon accepted. Vettori followed at 60 having brought up 500 runs in his 100th ODI, and Scott Styris at 66.

Astle, who came in at No 3, and Cairns regained some poise and added 64 uncomplicated runs before umpire Rudi Koertzen gave Astle out caught by wicket-keeper Jacobs for 46 when television evidence showed Astle never touched the ball. It wasn't surprising Astle was disappointed, his 46 runs were his second highest score in World Cup matches, after the century he scored in his first Cup game in the 1996 tournament in India.

Then after all the good work had been done, Cairns was caught on the long off boundary for 37 and Vincent was caught at close cover for nine, having scored his 1000th run. And at 147 for six wickets desperation was again the key.

Forty-one runs were added by Harris and Brendon McCullum before Harris was bowled for 19 by Gayle in the 44th over.

It was left to McCullum and Adams to hit New Zealand out of a fix, which they did with an unbroken New Zealand World Cup eighth-wicket partnership record of 53 runs off 43 balls. Adams hit two sixes and and a four in his 35 off 24 while McCullum showed great solidity in his 36 not out.

New Zealand now play South Africa on Sunday knowing that the prize is even greater if they can win that one. The decision to return Vincent to the field was vindicated, not only with his performance there but for the role played by wicket-keeper McCullum, firstly with the bat but then behind the stumps.