October 9, 2000

Honours even as New Zealand make slow progress against Zimbabwe in ICC KnockOut quarter-final

Honours were just about even at the halfway stage of the New Zealand innings in their ICC KnockOut quarter-final at the Nairobi Gymkhana Club on Monday.

After being sent in to bat, New Zealand had reached 115 for three after 25 overs with Roger Twose (34 not out) and Chris Cairns (11 not out) at the crease. The Kiwis, however, needed to accelerate during the latter half of their innings if they were to set Zimbabwe a challenging total.

The two teams have seen a good deal of each other over the past few weeks and Zimbabwe went into the match with the advantage of just having completed a 2-1 home series victory over New Zealand.

Henry Olonga, the dreadlocked Zimbabwean fast bowler, produced an early wicket for his side when he had Nathan Astle caught in the covers by Grant Flower for a fourth ball duck. It was hardly the start desired by New Zealand with the wicket falling on four in the second over.

Stephen Fleming joined Craig Spearman to steady the innings with a 53 run second wicket stand before Olonga was switched from the Forest Road end to the City end, a move that produced immediate success.

Spearman essayed a drive off Olonga, but the ball stopped on him and he floated a high catch to Heath Streak at mid-on. Spearman's 20 had taken him 36 deliveries.

With Twose now in harness with Fleming, New Zealand moved to 64 for two at the end of the first 15 overs. On a pitch that has favoured batsmen throughout the tournament this might well have been a shade below par and New Zealand now had to look to their captain to produce an innings of substance.

But in the 17th over he was run out by a smart piece of fielding from Guy Whittall. Twose, still looking to get off the mark, drove Olonga into the covers, but sent Fleming back after Whittall's diving stop. Fleming was slow to turn and Whittall's throw, while still on his knees, deflected off Olonga's hand onto the stumps.

Fleming had made 34 and at 69 for three, Zimbabwe could believe that New Zealand were being kept in check.

As if to make up for the setback, Twose started to play his shots, taking boundaries off Olonga, Mluleki Nkala and Paul Strang, while Cairns began to play himself in.