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5th Super Six Match: Australia v Zimbabwe
Sa'adi Thawfeeq - 9 June 1999

Mark Waugh classy century

Zimbabwe chasing 304 for victory

LONDON, Wednesday - Zimbabwes maiden appearance at Lord's saw them chasing a tall Australian score of 303 for 4 wickets to win their Super Sixes match, after opener Mark Waugh had batted himself into the World Cup record books with a classy century here today.

By inserting Australia first on a good batting pitch, Zimbabwe began well by dismissing the hard-hitting Adam Gilchrist for 10 in the seventh over, when the Australian wicket-keeper played across a delivery from Neil Johnson and was out leg before wicket.

Zimbabwe also took Ricky Ponting's wicket when he played onto a ball from Henry Olonga for 36 made off 35 balls with four fours. Ponting looked in good touch and had raised the run rate to over five an over with his aggressive batting when he was dismissed at 74 in the 14th over.

Australia also lost the services of Darren Lehmann for six when he was forced to retire hurt with an injured left index finger after being hit by an Olonga delivery. Lehmann's departure at 97 in the 17th over only brought captain Steve Waugh to join his brother Mark at the wicket.

The twins produced the most entertaining partnership of the innings adding 129 runs in 25 overs between them. Steve came into the match having passed a fitness test for a groin injury. He reached his half-century off 54 balls, but was out to an ungainly sweep shot to a straight ball from Guy Whittall. He made 62 good runs off 61 balls hitting two sixes and five fours.

Mark after a slow start, changed gears to accelerate to his century off 115 balls during which time he hit 13 sparkling boundaries. He was dismissed five balls later caught in the deep trying to pull Johnson, but by then Mark had already left his mark.

It was Mark's first century at Lord's and he became the first player to make four centuries in the World Cup competition. He was level with Vivian Richards, Ramiz Raja and Sachin Tendulkar on three centuries apiece before today. All three he scored in the last World Cup in 1996. He went past all these great players with today's hundred, which followed his knock of 83 against India in the first Super Six match last Friday.

Mark was given a standing ovation when he returned to the pavilion with Australia on 248 for 4 in the 43rd over.

Michael Bevan and Tom Moody ensured Australia got past the 300-run mark when they raised the total by a further 55 runs in the remaining overs.

Zimbabwe face the prospect of coming up against an inform Glenn McGrath, who has won two crucial games for Australia with his lethal bowling. Overcoming the McGrath factor will be Zimbabwe batsmen's concern when they chase 304 for victory. But Zimbabwe, who are virtually through to the semi-finals after their rain affected no-result against New Zealand put them on top of the Super Sixes table with five points, will more or less relish the prospect of playing at the home of cricket than worry so much about McGrath's pace.

``Playing at Lord's is the same for every cricketer in the world it's the home of cricket and everybody want to be here,'' said Zimbabwe coach David Houghton.

Zimbabwe's previous assignment at the headquarters of cricket was playing Holland in the ICC trophy final, 13 years ago, when none of the present cricketers were playing.

It is seven years since Zimbabwe were elevated to the ranks of a full ICC member and they have yet to play ina Test at Lord's. They are due to make a full tour of England next year.

Sri Lanka in some way can consider themselves lucky compared to Zimbabwe because they played their first Test at Lord's three years after becoming a full ICC member in 1981.

Aussies win despite Johnson's superb century

LONDON, Thursday - Zimbabwe's remarkable progress in the World Cup cannot be considered anything other than a team effort. But if you had to name one individual as the cornerstone, you cannot afford to miss the name of Neil Johnson.

The former Natal all-rounder who bats left-hand and bowls right-arm fast-medium, crowned himself with glory when he made an undefeated 132 off the famed Australian attack to become the first Zimbabwe cricketer to score a century at Lord's here yesterday.

Zimbabwe lost their Super Sixes match to Australia by 44 runs, but they didn't go down without a fight. Johnson who opens bowling and batting for Zimbabwe, took the Australian attack spearheaded by the deadly Glenn McGrath toe to toe and was still left unconquered when the overs ran out.

Zimbabwe showed they were hardly overawed by Australia's massive total of 303 for 4, by replying with 259 for 6.

They lost Grant Flower to a McGrath off-cutter which thudded into the opener's pads for 21 in the 11th over, but from there onwards till the 29th over, the Aussies were made to sweat by Johnson and Murray Goodwin, two 'imports' who have been responsible for Zimbabwe's sudden rise in international cricket in the past couple of years.

Although born in Harare, 29-year-old Johnson developed his cricket career alongside the likes of Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Jonty Rhodes under the tutelage of Malcolm Marshall at Natal. In a field of strong all-rounders, his international ambitions were limited to just a handful of appearances for the South African 'A' side.

Eventually, he returned to Zimbabwe to make his Test debut for them against India last October. He has hardly looked back since. Especially with his experience of English conditions, having played one season of county cricket with Leicestershire, Johnson has been a blessing for Zimbabwe, who have gone to the extent of shuffling their cards so that Johnson, opens the batting and the bowling in one-day cricket.

Goodwin (26), once of Western Australia, but Zimbabwe-born is another player like Johnson, who has been persuaded by coach David Houghton to return from Perth to Harare. He has considerably strengthened the batting in the past 18 months.

Johnson and Goodwin were so much in control that Steve Waugh, the Australian captain was running out of options to curb the run flow. Leg-spinner Shane Warne was hit for 16 runs (four fours) in an over by Johnson, who reached his half-century off 58 balls with seven fours. With Goodwin also moving into top gear, the pair added 114 runs in 18 overs. At 153 for one, Zimbabwe required a further 151 off 21 overs. With wickets in hand it was a remote possibility.

Waugh in desperation threw the ball to Michael Bevan, who with his left-arm spin finally ended the partnership by having Goodwin caught in the deep of an ambitious pull for 47 scored off 56 balls with seven fours. That dismissal saw Zimbabwe's innings lose momentum as Andy Flower, their most experienced batsman was out to a first ball duck to Paul Reiffel and seven overs later, the challenge was effectively snuffed out when Reiffel took the wickets of captain Alistair Campbell (17) and Guy Whittall (0) in one over.

When Warne had Dirk Viljoen stumped - a decision given by the third umpire - by Gilchrist for five, Zimbabwe were six down for 200 in the 39th over.

Heath Streak dealt a few lusty blows in his innings of 18 not out keeping Johnson company in an entertaining seventh wicket stand of 59 off 11 overs, but by now Australia had gained their composure and taken control of the match. The only interest lay on Johnson's century. It arrived in the 43rd over off 118 balls with one six and 11 fours and when he came off the field, he was congratulated by all the Australian players.

That he pipped Mark Waugh, who made a classic 104, to the 'Man of the Match' award, the Australians wouldn't have minded. For them, the win was more important because it brought them a step closer to the semi-finals. Having come into the Super Six without a point, they now have four, which puts them on par with Pakistan and South Africa. Their final match against South Africa at Leeds on Sunday may well turned out to be something close to a final.

Source: The Daily News