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Cricinfo lists some of the best knocks from Stephen Fleming
March 25, 2008
Fleming, then 22, was at the centre of a day of firsts for New Zealand. West Indies set the visitors a gettable target of 239 and when New Zealand fell to 71 for 4, somebody had to step up. Fleming paced his innings beautifully against an attack boasting Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop, finishing unbeaten on 106 and striking the winning runs with one ball to spare. It was his first ODI century, the first by a New Zealander against West Indies and New Zealand's first ODI win in the Caribbean.
Another chase, another superbly paced Fleming century. New Zealand's only win on this tour of Australia came as they overhauled the hosts' 251 at the MCG. An under-strength Australia attack still managed to have New Zealand at 42 for 3 and by that stage the bookmakers had the visitors at 20 to 1. Things hadn't improved much as they strolled past 100 in the 30th over but Fleming gradually reeled in the target - he only hit eight fours in the innings - and finished unbeaten on 116. It was one of many big knocks Fleming would play in come-from-behind victories.
Before this match, Fleming was sometimes accused of lacking concentration as he tried to build big scores. That trend looked set to continue when he absentmindedly strolled to the crease without his box and had to rush back to retrieve it. A lazy shot brought his dismissal for 78 but in his second innings he displayed a rarely-seen resolve, batting for nearly eight hours and setting up a 167-run victory. It was Fleming's second Test century and New Zealand hoped it would be his turning point. As it turned out, Fleming didn't reach triple-figures again in a Test for nearly four years.
This was a match New Zealand simply had to win. They had lost their World Cup opener to Sri Lanka and were about to give up a forfeit to Kenya because of security concerns. Another loss and they might not reach the Super Sixes. The home side piled on 306 but Fleming was not giving in. Wisden called his 134 an innings of "graceful power" and after rain and electrical failure shortened the match, he guided New Zealand to their revised target with a four off Allan Donald. It was Fleming's fourth century in 192 ODIs and it gave his team their first limited-overs win over South Africa.
Fleming's tenacious performance in this match made it hard to believe he was ever accused of lacking concentration. He batted for nearly 11 hours to register an unbeaten 274 - easily his highest in Tests - and his unselfish declaration left the door open for a result. But Sri Lanka refused to play ball, batting so long that a draw became inevitable. Fleming added 69 not out in the second innings and was on the field in searing heat for all but the first 44 minutes of the match.
As if to prove his effort against Sri Lanka was no fluke, Fleming dug in for another lengthy stay nine months later. This time he fell short of a double-century but his 192 in 479 minutes set up a New Zealand total of 563, batting first against Pakistan. Things didn't go so well in the second innings when he failed to score and his side made 96 for 8, but rain stole enough overs to ensure a draw.
Another double-century did come his way the following year and for Fleming it was a match to remember for many reasons. He became New Zealand's most capped Test player and also passed Martin Crowe's record of 5444 runs for New Zealand. His 202 might not have been his most challenging innings, given the opposition, but the overall occasion helped confirm Fleming's place as one of New Zealand cricket's greatest servants.
With his side down 1-0, Fleming lost the toss in the second Test and New Zealand were sent in on a dreary day. James Franklin made his maiden century but Fleming was the star, racking up 262 and becoming the first New Zealander to score three Test double-centuries. He batted positively - his strike rate was 61 - but the home side's hefty reply was slower and the match petered out to a draw.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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