July 22, 2000

Stewart presses towards century as England cruise towards target

Alec Stewart
Alec Stewart acknowledges his half-century
Photo © AllSport

Lord's, 30 overs: Zimbabwe 169 for seven; England 108 for two (Stewart 72, Hick 28)

After 30 over of their innings, England appeared to be cruising to victory over Zimbabwe in the NatWest Series final. Set 170 to win, they had scored 108 for two wickets, with the prolific Alec Stewart still there on 72 not out. This was despite the shock of losing two wickets to Heath Streak for just 9 runs.

NatWest Series

Earlier England had taken full advantage of winning the toss in overcast conditions by reducing Zimbabwe to 31 for four in the first hour. Andy (48) and Grant Flower (53 not out) brought about a recovery, but the tourists never looked likely to set England too challenging a target.

Early innings shocks

England, after the run of steady starts provided by Trescothick and Stewart, were set back in the third over of the innings, bowled by Streak. Trescothick (1) suffered his first failure in international cricket as he slashed outside off stump with a diagonal bat, for the catch to be hauled down by Campbell at slip. Without addition Streak bowled Flintoff with a superb ball that moved in to him, and England were 9 for two. Their previous lowest opening partnership of the one-day series was 23.

Unexpectedly England found themselves having to fight back. Nkala, used surprisingly instead of Bryan Strang at the other end, was unable to exert the same pressure, and Stewart scored freely through the covers off him, recording three boundaries in a row. Nkala quickly gave way to Strang. Hick hung on without looking convincing, and at one stage Stewart had 30 of the first 37 runs. The fifty came up in the 17th over.

Once the pair had settled down and Streak came off, the match settled down more predictably. The batsmen were under no pressure to hasten the scoring rate, and Stewart reached his fourth successive fifty in the series. A Stewart on-drive for four brought up the hundred in the 29th over.