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July 19, 2000
Photo © CricInfo
England must continue their consistent form in all departments if they are to secure the NatWest Series Trophy on Saturday, Alec Stewart said after the emphatic 52-run victory over Zimbabwe in the day-night match at Edgbaston.
Stewart, who won man of the match for his superb century - his third one day hundred for England - stressed Zimbabwe's proven ability to come back fighting would make them a difficult side to beat on Saturday even though their opponents put in a disappointing performance in chasing the 263 target in tonight's match.
"We lost badly to them at The Oval and since then we have had two convincing wins - but you only have to look at the way they knocked over the West Indies chasing 280 to know what they are capable of," he said.
"It was one of the best one-day chases I have ever seen and we know they are a good side. But in the last two games we have played very good cricket against them and have won them very convincingly.
Stewart added that his partnership with Marcus Trescothick provided a strong platform for England but the stand between Nasser Hussain, back from injury after a four week break, and Craig White gave Zimbabwe an intimidating total to chase.
"With the new ball, it was a pretty good wicket to bat on and Marcus and myself got off to a bit of a flier. I think we had 40 on the board off the first four or five overs.
"It set the tone. As the innings went on, the ball got softer and it was a little bit harder to hit it so we just knocked it around.
"I thought the Graham Thorpe-Stewart partnership was vital. We have had many innings together for Surrey and England and running between the wickets and know how each other's play was very important.
"And Nasser and Craig White at the end were outstanding and really took the attack to them for the last six or seven overs which really pushed up to that 260.
"But again we bowled well. We bowled pretty straight and made it difficult for their team to get anywhere near us. I thought about 240 was just above par and when we got 260 we were in the driving seat."
Securing a win against the West Indies at Trent Bridge on Thursday, the penultimate match in the NatWest Series, was an important part of England's preparations for Saturday's final, Stewart said.
"We have got to try and get a win on Thursday against the West Indies and then try and carry on what we have done at Old Trafford and here against Zimbabwe."
Stewart revealed that his omission from England's one day party last winter in South Africa and Zimbabwe made his success this summer all the sweeter.
"I was disappointed to miss out on South Africa but that's all gone now. I've been given a chance to play in this cricket again and I'd like to think I've done pretty well so far.
"I nicked one early tonight which the keeper and the slip let go and went for four but otherwise it was a pretty chanceless innings."
"It's nice to get a hundred in any form of cricket. It's nice in those record books when you pack up."
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