July 8, 2000

Zimbabwe resistance flowers in poor light

NatWest Series, The Oval: England 207 (50 overs); Zimbabwe 105 for three (Campbell 41, A Flower 36)

After losing three wickets, one of them controversially, for 35 runs in pursuit of England's total of 207, Zimbabwe appeared to be as good as buried. Then came a determined fighting partnership between present and past captains, Andy Flower and Alistair Campbell, who fought back against some fine bowling and poor light to keep their team in the match with 20 overs still to be bowled.

NatWest Series

England struck back with the third ball of the Zimbabwe innings, as without a run on the board their key batsman Johnson drove uppishly at Caddick and Maynard at backward point juggled and then held the vital low catch.

Caddick and Gough gave Goodwin and Wishart a torrid time with some superb bowling as they tried to dig in, but the total was only 9 when Wishart (2) stepped across his stumps and was adjudged lbw by umpire Shepherd, to a delivery that the camera showed to be going down leg side. Campbell came in but the light was clearly deteriorating, and the batsmen earned the ire of the crowd by opting to go off with the score on 12 for two (Goodwin 5, Campbell 3). However within two minutes it was raining again.

Gough and Caddick off-line
Should try ecb.co.uk/live

About ten minutes were lost before play restarted, in light that was not noticeably any better. Gough and Caddick continued their assault, but bowled enough deliveries off-line now to allow the batsmen to keep the score ticking over. Campbell, despite edging his first ball just short of slip, soon began to show glimpses of his true ability, despite the increasing gloom; streetlights and car headlights were beginning to come on.

Ealham came on to bowl and with his second ball dismissed Goodwin lbw for 11, playing outside a ball that moved back to him, and Zimbabwe were 35 for three. Andy Flower and Campbell got their heads down and fought back, this time refusing to go off when offered the light and winning the gratitude of the crowd. They ran well between wickets and chose their strokes well in what was clearly an uphill battle. Ealham and Mullally were unable to bowl quite straight enough and many of their runs came from nudges and dabs to fine leg and third man, with Andy playing the reverse sweep to good effect.

The fifty partnership came up off 88 balls in the 26th over, but Zimbabwe were still slightly behind on Duckworth-Lewis. In the 3oth over they took the lead for the first time to set up the prospect of a superb finish to this match.