September 28, 2000

Black Caps extend unbeaten record on Zimbabwe tour

The good news keeps on coming for the Black Caps in Zimbabwe and after my quick trip to Johannesburg I have some good news of my own as I now expect to be fit to play in the ICC KnockOut tournament in Kenya next week.

Straight after our victory in the second Test I went to Jo'burg for a cortisone injection on my right knee.

I have had problems with this knee for a couple of years now and it was getting to the stage where it was very sore, hence the injection to settle it down.

I will miss the two remaining one-dayers against Zimbabwe this weekend but I will be fit for Kenya.

While it was hard to watch our first ODI today from the boundary, along with Dion Nash and Geoff Allott who were also injured, Shayne O'Connor, Daryl Tuffey and Scott Styris all contributed well to what was a good seven-wicket win after Stephen Fleming decided to bowl first.

Shayne continued on after his fine performance in the Test series while Nathan Astle put in a great performance with the ball. The Black Caps were also sharp in the field.

We were in a bit of strife early on in our chase however.

Both Astle and Chris Nevin went early to great fielding by Paul Strang. He took one brilliant catch and completed a fine run out.

But Craig Spearman, promoted to No 3 after Flem was laid low by a stomach complaint, responded very well with Roger Twose.

Absorbing early pressure at 14 for two, both of the guys went about their game, and it was great to see Spears register his highest one-day score, and Roger played as we've come to expect, to see us through.

It really has been a good tour for the Black Caps.

Our effort in winning the second Test was a source of great jubilation for us. We had to toil for three days in the field to get the win and we got home with 15 balls to spare.

We really capitalised on our good start to post 460 on the second day. Included in that was my fourth Test hundred which I was very pleased to get as early on I had to work hard as the Zimbabwe bowlers bowled really well.

With Dion playing very well also, we had a record-breaking partnership. As the bowlers tired we capitalised until we fell to consecutive balls.

Bowling Zim out cheaply in their first innings provided a bit of a dilemma for Steve Fleming as I was injured and Dion was feeling sore also.

In a Test match though you never concede any advantage and Flem rightly asked Zim to bat again.

Starting out on day four we thought we might be able to knock Zim over and finish in four days but they came back very well in the second innings showing a lot more resistance, led by Guy Whittall's great 180.

It wasn't until just before tea on the fifth day and our third new ball in the second innings, that we made inroads into the Zim batting. We captured four quick wickets then got a run out, which left us chasing 70-odd in 15 overs.

We weren't sure where they would bowl but we knew they would use their two bouncers an over. We reached the target with 15 balls to spare with Mat Sinclair seeing us home.

It was also the first time Zim had been beaten 2-0 at home which was an indication of how hard we had to work.

Next up, there is a double-header in Bulawayo on Saturday/Sunday, and after today's performance the Black Caps head there full of confidence.