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February 21, 2007
After completing his transformation from out-of-favour allrounder to national hero with a match-winning century, Craig McMillan said New Zealand could go to the World Cup without fearing any target. McMillan was a crucial figure in the final two Chappell-Hadlee Trophy matches as New Zealand overhauled scores of 336 at Eden Park and 346 at Hamilton to secure the country's first cleansweep over Australia.
Back-to-back performances of 52 off 30 balls and 117 off 96 were also hugely satisfying for McMillan, who was dropped from the squad in 2005 and not offered a New Zealand contract. "Hopefully, I've shown people I can still bat and I've still got something to offer this side," McMillan said in the Dominion Post. "I've always had the ability but at times that belief gets knocked when you are not going as well as what you want. But I suppose the key for me was the knock in Sydney [last month] when I got 89, that gave me the belief that I can foot it."
New Zealand were in severe trouble at 4 for 41 at Hamilton when McMillan walked out to perform a brilliant rescue and collect the fastest century in the country's history. Partnerships of 75 with Peter Fulton (51) and 165 with Brendon McCullum (86 not out) pushed them towards their aim before McCullum finished the match with one wicket and three balls to go. The series result and the manner in which New Zealand achieved the whitewash will give them extreme confidence heading into next month's World Cup.
"From 40 for 4 we didn't have a lot to lose and sometimes teams can be dangerous from those situations," McMillan said. "We got a couple of partnerships going. It's special and the icing on the cake was winning the game. Now we can head to the World Cup believing we can chase down anything."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?