October 15, 2000

Magnificent Cairns steers New Zealand to great triumph

Chris Cairns carried New Zealand to victory in the ICC KnockOut 2000 with a magnificent 102 not out as favourites India were beaten by four wickets in a thrilling climax to the tournament at the Nairobi Gymkhana Club on Sunday.

Cairns saw New Zealand to victory with just two balls remaining after the Indians had dominated the first 25 overs of each innings, but New Zealand had fought back bravely.

The flurry of wickets during the first 25 overs slowed New Zealand down and between the 25th and 35th overs Cairns and Chris Harris added only 31, mostly against occasional spinners Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh. For the first time the required run rate slipped to above six to the over.

Cairns had gone to his 50 off 63 balls and he eventually came out of his shell to hammer Tendulkar straight for six. Tendulkar, though, was able to bowl his 10 overs out for just 38 - including the wicket of Craig McMillan - with his mixture of leg breaks, googlys and off breaks.

Tendulkar was replaced at the City end by Anil Kumble and when Harris took 10 off the first over of his new spell, New Zealand were left needing 69 to win off the last 10 overs of the match.

Cairns should have been run out in the 41st over for 68 when he and Harris got themselves in a muddle. But Ganguly's throw to Yuvraj Singh was wayward and then the bowler missed the stumps as he tried to roll the ball onto them.

With seven overs remaining, Zaheer Khan was brought back for a final burst. It was something of a gamble for India - Zaheer had been hammered for 41 during his first five overs - but the New Zealanders could take only four from the first over of his new spell.

Venkatesh Prasad was also brought back at the City end and an off drive for four off his last ball by Cairns left New Zealand needing 44 off the last five overs.

Harris hit a Zaheer full toss just over Robin Singh's grasping fingers at midwicket for four and then helped himself to another boundary off the last ball as New Zealand helped themselves to 10 off the over. With four overs remaining, New Zealand needed 34.

Kumble was brought back at the Forest Road end but a huge straight six from Cairns followed by a cheekily glanced four ensured that 14 came off the over. With 18 balls left, New Zealand were still 20 short of victory.

Ajit Agarkar was given the 48th over from which seven were taken, all run, and Prasad was given the penultimate over with 13 still required.

A high full toss hit Harris on the knee for a leg bye, then Cairns took a single for his 100 off 110 balls. Off the third ball, though, Robin Singh took a leaping catch at cover to dismiss Harris for 46 off 72 balls and bring Adam Parore to the wicket. Cairns and Harris had put on 122 for the sixth wicket.

At 254 for six, 11 were needed off nine balls and Parore's first all flicked off his pads for four leg byes. Two more leg byes came off the fifth ball and two on-driven runs off the last.

It was left, fittingly, by Cairns to hit the winning run with two balls of the match left.

Earlier, Sourav Ganguly hammered out his second century in as many matches to lead his side to 264 for six.

Ganguly's 15th one-day hundred followed hard on his unbeaten 141 against South Africa in Friday's semi-final. This time around he made 117 after sharing in a first-wicket partnership of 141 with Sachin Tendulkar which left New Zealand struggling to stay in the game during the first 25 overs of the innings.

At the halfway mark, India had been 129 for no wicket, but the New Zealand bowlers fought back well after an early battering to leave their batsmen with a realistic victory target. Against Pakistan in the semi-finals, New Zealand chased 253 and won with an over to spare.

The wonderful opening stand came to a tame end in the 27th over when Ganguly sent Tendulkar back and Scott Styris' throw to Nathan Astle at the bowler's end was true. Tendulkar was batting as if a hundred was there for the taking, and his dismissal for 69 off 82 balls was a disappointment for the near full-house which overwhelmingly supported India. He had hammered out 10 fours and a six during his stay.

But Ganguly was still there and, just as he had done against South Africa, he began to pick up the pace of his innings. His first 50 had taken 68 deliveries, but with straight sixes coming off Chris Harris and Nathan Astle, he needed only another 42 balls to move to three figures, bringing his hundred up when he turned Scott Styris behind square for two in the 37th over of the innings.

Ganguly and Rahul Dravid added 61 for the second wicket in 12.3 overs before Dravid was run out in similar circumstances to Tendulkar. Again the non-striker was sent back by Ganguly and again Styris was the fielder, but this time the bowler, Geoff Allott, had to reach for the underarm throw and the third umpire was called on for a decision. The replay showed Dravid short of his ground and he was gone for 22 off 35 balls with India on 202 for two with 39 overs completed.

Ganguly's splendid innings came to an end in the 43rd over when he plonked a full toss from Astle down the throat of Harris at long on. He faced 130 balls in all, hitting nine fours and four sixes and he had once against served his team magnificently.

Vinod Kambli made only a single before he holed out to Shayne O'Connor at long off off Styris and Yuvraj Singh made 19 off 19 balls before scooping the same bowler up to Roger Twose at cover. At 237 for five, New Zealand had pulled India back in again after the batting team had threatened at one point to total more than 300.

Harris made a valiant effort to take a miracle catch off Robin Singh, then 8, in the 48th over, sprinting 30 metres in from the long off boundary and diving to try and take a skier but Singh went for 13 off 11 balls in the next over, chipping Allott up to wide mid on.