New Zealand 347 for (Astle 145*, Styris 75, McMillan 64*) beat USA 137 (Lambert 39, Oram 5-36) by 210 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Nathan Astle's sizzling 145, and his electric partnership with Craig McMillan, ensured that New Zealand came away with a crushing 210-run victory from their opening match of the Champions Trophy against the USA. Heavy rain might have forced a delayed start to the match at The Oval, but the last few overs saw a torrential downpour of sixes as Astle and McMillan clattered 136 off just 7.4 overs. Jacob Oram then ended what resistance remained with three wickets in one over, and the Americans ended up with only 137.
On a day of record-hunting, Astle's was the second-highest score by a New Zealander in one-dayers behind Glenn Turner's 171 not out in the 1975 World Cup against an East African team also making its international debut. Scott Styris's 75 off 78 balls was crucial in giving the innings momentum, but it was eclipsed by a pillaging 64 off just 27 balls by McMillan, the sixth-fastest half-century in all one-dayers. All this meant that New Zealand amassed 347, the highest score in the history of the Champions Trophy so far.
That total, though, seemed a distant possibility after the first 15 overs of the New Zealand innings. Tony Reid and Howard Johnson - the new-ball pair who share 82 years between them - were disciplined at a military-medium pace, and used the murky conditions to good effect. Stephen Fleming and Hamish Marshall fell to indiscreet strokes, and Styris joined Astle with a wobble on at 43 for 2.
Both batsmen eschewed the risky shots, and rarely lofted over the infield. They played the percentages by picking the gaps and running swiftly. As New Zealand nerves settled, the Americans began to flounder in the field. Astle cashed in on any width offered, and his slap through the covers produced rich dividends. Once they reached the 30th over, at 140 for 2, Astle and Styris pressed the accelerator with relish. They added 65 between the 30th and 40th overs before Styris fell, trying to clear the field (206 for 3).
Astle carried on to his 14th one-day hundred, before tearing into the bowling. Chris Cairns fell for only 3, but McMillan arrived with the red-hot hammer. Smacking five sixes in the arc between midwicket and long-off, McMillan raced to his fifty in just 21 balls. Astle, though, was revving it up even faster as his last 58 runs came in just 20. Stunningly the first of the 13 sixes in the innings came in the fifth ball of the 43rd over. Some of the sixes travelled so far they could almost have been termed tens.
Despite receiving such a pounding, the American openers, Rohan Alexander and Mark Johnson, came out fighting. Johnson, the left-handed wicketkeeper, flashed at anything wide of the stumps and scored at faster than a run a ball. They added 52 in just nine overs and pride, at least, was there for the taking. But then came an eight-ball spell that removed the wheels from the American wagon.
Oram struck with the first ball of the 10th over, when Johnson angled a short one through to Brendon McCullum, the wicketkeeper. Two balls later, Leon Romero edged straight to Scott Styris in the slips. Steve Massiah's dismissal, fifth ball, was almost a mirror image of Johnson's wicket, as McCullum accepted his second catch. Next over Chris Cairns struck, as Richard Staple was lbw for a golden duck (55 for 4).
America had lost four wickets for three runs, two of which were wides. Clayton Lambert, the former West Indian opener, laboured to a 84-ball 39 and, along with Jignesh Desai, delayed the end. Daniel Vettori, the hero of the NatWest Series triumph a few months back, had a good workout with 3 for 14, but Oram finished with 5 for 39 as the United States crumbled for 137.
This was bad enough for the Americans, but on September 13 they come up against Australia at the Rose Bowl. The record books could need a major rewrite after that one.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is on the staff of Wisden Cricinfo.