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August 24, 2005
Despite clear skies, the start was delayed by 45 minutes after condensation under the covers left the pitch damp. The resulting reduction in overs to 44 spared Zimbabwe's hapless bowlers an even more severe battering that they got anyway. New Zealand, put in by Tatenda Taibu in the hope his bowlers could exploit any lingering moisture, smacked 397 for 5, one short of the highest ODI total ever (and that was made from a full six overs more).
Lou Vincent, whose role as an opener was described akin to "putting a band-aid over a gaping wound" by team-mate Chris Cairns earlier in the week, filled his boots with all the enthusiasm of a child in a sweet shop. In 120 balls of pure carnage, he clobbered 172, the highest score in an ODI by a New Zealander, including 118 in boundaries.
New Zealand cut loose from the off, racing to 84 for 0 off 10 overs as Vincent and Stephen Fleming feasted upon Zimbabwe's bowlers. Vincent brought up his fifty off 40 balls, briefly pausing for breath in the nineties, before bringing up his hundred with a lofted six off Anthony Ireland. Fleming, 93, matched him almost blow for blow, taking the score to 204 in 28 overs before he gave the debutant, Ireland, his first international wicket.
By then, the New Zealanders were probably scrapping in the pavillion, itching to get to the middle. Craig McMillan swatted 47 off 26 deliveries, and then Vincent's barrage was ended when he was brilliantly caught by Prosper Utseya on the square-leg boundary off Andy Blignaut. That was scant consolation for Blignaut who had been the most severely mauled bowler, conceding 96 runs in nine painful overs. Brendon McCullum (51 not out off 22 balls) launched a final assault to bring New Zealand within one run of equaling the world record.
Zimbabwe were never going to win, and they adopted a sensible strategy of batting through the overs to make a decent score rather than throw wickets away in a futile chase. Brendan Taylor and Stuart Carlisle survived a testing opening spell by Shane Bond and then found enough width from a rusty Cairns to keep the scoreboard ticking along, even if the asking rate quickly shot into double figures.
But a mid innings collapse threatened to give Zimbabwe another unwanted record - the heaviest ODI defeat of 256 runs - but Heath Streak clubbed 45 at the death to avoid that ignominy. Even so, this was another performance which gave even more ammunition to those questioning Zimbabwe's right to continue sitting at international cricket's top table.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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