March 30, 2001

Record win for New Zealand is worst loss for Pakistan

New Zealand cricket just got a whole lot tougher to take a record win, and inflict a record loss, over Pakistan after a stunning fourth and final day in Hamilton today.

New Zealand's win of the third National Bank Test by an innings and 185 runs was the greatest in its history and the margin was the worst suffered by Pakistan, beating their previous worst of an innings and 174 runs at Kingston, Jamaica against the West Indies in 1957/58.

It was a remarkable win for a New Zealand team which has been decimated by injury all summer, and which two Test matches ago suffered the most embarrassing loss of its modern history with a last day collapse of nine wickets for 26 runs and eight for 10.

The win, achieved on a pitch with bounce and carry - the new and preferred pitch of the modern generation of players, was made all the more memorable by the fact it was achieved in little over two days, 189 overs, of playing time, and incorporated some outstanding batting feats.

The achievements of both openers recording maiden Test centuries had earlier been highlighted but when captain Stephen Fleming joined Craig McMillan on what turned out to be the last morning, few could have imagined the extravaganza that was about to unfold.

Fleming, batting as freely and as comfortably as he has in the long time, took to the Pakistan pace men to race to the 29th half century of his career, scored off 63 balls.

A moment later, McMillan, who had been not out overnight on seven, also achieved his half century, off 80 balls.

But 22 minutes later, when Fleming was 51 not out, he declared the innings closed at 407/4 when McMillan was dismissed, caught on the third man boundary, for 98 runs.

In the space of 17 balls, McMillan tore the Pakistanis apart.

One over bowled by part-time leg spinner Younis Khan went for 26 runs, a world record both by an individual and for most runs off any over, including an eight-ball over.

Three reverse sweeps, an orthodox sweep, a cut, all for four, and the coup de grace, a magnificent off driven six which soared out of the ground and into the adjacent car park, all in one over, defied belief from a player who has now emerged as a world-class competitor and out of the shadow of Chris Cairns.

What mayhem could be unleashed when New Zealand could field their best batting line-up and they were united in good form.

The 147 runs they scored, off 146 balls in 119 minutes, was a New Zealand record fourth wicket partnership against Pakistan beating the 128 scored by Brian Hastings and Mark Burgess at Wellington in 1972/73.

When chief executive Chris Doig walked out the door at New Zealand Cricket tonight at 5pm, his job done after five years at the helm, it was in the knowledge that the cricket rabble that had been the national team had been transformed into a much more competitive unit, capable of mixing it, even when without several key players.

Pakistan, by comparison, could only lament their situation having been 1-0 up in the series.

To be dismissed for 104 and 118 on a pitch which captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said was "a good Test wicket", by a team which played soundly and sensibly with patience, but also an unerring instinct to punish bad balls, was a poor effort.

All sorts of rumours have been flying about the lack of harmony in Pakistan cricket during the series and the sort of attitude exhibited today suggests that there is a problem.

Pakistan was without key players, so too were New Zealand.

But the development process that has been part of New Zealand's cricket in recent years has come up trumps.

Bowlers Daryl Tuffey and Chris Martin, tightened their line in the second innings and had reward, while James Franklin, the apprentice, took four wickets for 26 runs, including Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam, Humayun Farhat, not a bad day's work.

Tuffey has been a workhorse of the summer and at one stage during the South African tour he had been wicketless in his Test career with 232 runs against his name.

Since then he has taken 19 wickets at 24.05, to leave his career average at 36.26.

Tuffey took three for 38 today while Martin had two for 48 to complete what for him must have been quite the most amazing summer of sport he has ever had.

It was another amazing day of cricket, and one that gave New Zealand hope heading into a tough season next summer when at one stage it seemed selectors would have to be hanging around Emergency Wards to see who was fit before they named their next team.