Mark Waugh waltzes past a daunting target
110 v New Zealand, 4th quarter-final, 1996
Mark Waugh's third hundred of the 1996 tournament - which equalled the record for most hundreds in a single edition of the event - was his finest by some distance. Asked to make the second-highest score to win a World Cup match, under below-par lights and on an outfield slowed by a damp sea mist, Waugh helped whisk Australia past New Zealand's imposing total of 286.
Clearly prospering in his role as an opener in the limited-overs game, Waugh hit 110 in 112 balls to follow hundreds in the group games against Kenya and India. It was one of the coolest, breeziest hundreds ever, and you'd be hard-pressed to pick a better hundred in a one-day chase. His batting was unfussy and easy on the eye, and the clinical manner in which he collected his runs and set up the finish for his lower-order team-mates underlined the professionalism of that Australian side.
Perhaps more than the shots was the rate at which he scored his runs. Many people in the stands didn't realise Waugh had reached his fifty; they only saw that the man had glided his way to the landmark when the electronic scoreboard flashed it. In just about two-and-a-half hours of nimble-footed driving and flicking, mixed with two big sixes, Waugh showcased his easy elegance. The target of 287 was a daunting one, but Waugh batted beautifully to make a complete mockery of it.
His partnership with elder twin Steve (59 not out) was enough for the six-wicket win and watching the siblings pinch ones and twos like cricket's version of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen was a treat. The capacity crowd of 42,000 was treated to a great one-day international. You had to sympathise with Chris Harris, whose never-say-die 130 - he hammered everything that came his way, especially Waugh's offbreaks - was another champion effort. Australia were run closer than anybody thought possible, but with Waugh batting like that, New Zealand didn't stand a chance.
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