October 13, 2000

Saturday fitness test will decide if Cairns will play

A fitness test in Nairobi on Saturday will determine whether I will have a chance to help our New Zealand side win its first significant international tournament in Sunday's ICC KnockOut final.

I hope to be fit for Sunday, but even if I am such was the quality of the performance in the semi-final to beat Pakistan, I might find it hard to make the team.

It truly was a great victory and showed the spirit that has grown in this CLEAR Black Caps team over the last couple of years.

Having lost to Pakistan in the semi-finals of the 1992 and 1999 World Cups, it would be fair to say that history was not on our side going into this KnockOut semi-final!

With myself, Dion Nash and Dan Vettori out of this team, it fell on the likes of Shayne O'Connor and Scott Styris to come up with the goods.

Our theme for the game was to be disciplined. We all knew how talented the Pakistani team was, so our best form of attack was to do all the basics well and if we could do that we could put Pakistan under pressure.

Losing the toss didn't prove that vital as Pakistan batted first. Flem (Stephen Fleming) had indicated to us that he was going to bowl so we were happy with that. Shayne O'Connor took the new ball with Geoff Allott and continued on his good form. He has bowled very well on this tour and has definitely come of age as an international bowler.

Shayno took the first wicket to fall. At the other end Geoff was not getting the ball to swing and came under attack from an in-form Saeed Anwar. Anwar is one of the quality players in world cricket and showed us, as he did in the '99 semi-final, what he is capable of.

As others struggled, Anwar brought up his hundred in the 34th over and looked in ominous touch until Geoff Allott came back and removed him caught behind. Having the Pakis seven down going into the last 10 overs meant they had to be very cautious going after runs as they didn't want to be bowled out before the 50 overs were up.

Shayno stepped up and picked up four wickets at the end to have figures of 5-42. What a great effort on a small ground. Pakistan's 252 we knew was gettable.

But we had to do it after losing a couple of early wickets and having Nathan Astle survive a torrid early spell from Wasim Akram.

However, Roger Twose, again, and Nathan settled into a splendid partnership of 130, a New Zealand record.

You can never count Pakistan out and as we seemed to be cruising to victory, a few quick wickets lost saw us six wickets down needing 60 to win.

Two young players in Craig McMillan and Scott Styris played beyond their years against an experienced Pakistan side to see us home and put us through to New Zealand's first international one-day final.

New Zealand has never won a competition like this before and we all realise we have a great opportunity to be the first team in our history to do this.