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The Barbados Nation 3rd Super Six Match: New Zealand v Zimbabwe
Tony Cozier - 7 June 1999

Weather dogs Kiwis efforts

After Saturday's momentus clash of the heavyweights at Trent Bridge, the lightweights of the Super Sixes squared off at Headingley yesterday.

It was a critical match as the outcome would almost certainly determine which of Zimbabwe, the least likely of qualifiers, and New Zealand, would advance to the semi-finals. But weather not untypical of the northern counties, even in early summer, denied them a result on the day.

When play was finally halted by the third interruption for rain and gloom, New Zealand were marginally ahead on points but the teams will have to return this morning to resolve which will earn the vital victory.

Zimbabwe, batting first on winning the toss, were encumbered by the second rain break just when they were building the foundations of a reasonable total. The delay of an hour-and-a-quarter was an unwelcome interruption and, on resumption, their limp lower order fell apart. Their last seven wickets tumbled for 41 off the 14 overs and they were all out for an unsatisfactory 175 in the last over.

As openers Nathan Astle and Matthew Horne blazed 58 off the first nine overs, it seemed that New Zealand could complete their mission by the extended closing time of 8 p.m. But Zimbabwe have got this far more by sheer determination than special talent and, in the space of 15 balls, 58 for none became 65 for three.

When umpires Dave Orchard and Srinivasa Venkataraghavan rated the light poor enough to offer the option of going off to Stephen Fleming, one of the not out batsmen, the New Zealand captain did not hestitate.

His team was 70 for three off 15 overs, leaving them 106 more for their win, and two points, from the remaining 35 overs. The forecast is for better weather and, even on a cracked pitch of uneven bounce, New Zealand should manage it.

But it is not a foregone conclusion especially since it means so much to the Zimbabweans.

They entered the last six as the third placed team in their group, but only on run rate. More significantly, they carried forward four points from their victories over fellow qualifiers, India and South Africa so that they need only one win in their three matches at this stage to guarantee themselves a place in the semi-final.

It would be an elevated status for a team that had won only three of their previous 25 World Cup matches. As their remaining opponents are Australia and Pakistan this is their most, if not only, realistic chance of achieving their fantasy.

New Zealand brought two points with them into the Sixes on the strength of their first round win over Australia. South Africa and India are their later matches but an additional two points gained here should be enough to carry them into the semis.

Zimbabwe started badly and finished worse. In between, a steady, sensible fourth wicket partnership of 91 in 26.2 overs between Murray Goodwin and the left-handed captain Alistair Campbell was rebuilding the innings when the second break for rain arrived at 134 for three after 36 overs.

The third ball on resumption Goodwin cut at Chris Harris' nondescriptslow-medium straight ball and edged a catch to the wicket-keeper. He had made 57 off 90 balls with six fours.

Concerned with the declining run-rate, Campbell swung wildly at Larsen five overs later and skied a catch to midon. His 40 was carefully compiled off 101 balls but, with him and Goodwin gone, the lower order meekly capitulated.

Like the West Indies, Zimbabwe does not possess a Lance Klusener or a Moin Khan down the list and the steady New Zealand bowlers simply frustrated them.

There were three wickets each for Chris Cairns and Geoff Allott, the pacy left-arm swing bowler who brought his tally of wickets in the tournament to 18, a World Cup record. The most miserly New Zealander was the wily, 35-year-old medium-pacer Gavin Larsen whose 10 overs cost 27.

Horne and Astle started New Zealand's quest for their modest target with a succession of failures behind them in the tournament - their highest partnership five.

They set about making up for lost time, Horne stroking six boundaries, Astle two in adding 58.

Suddenly, Horne was lbw to the medium-pacer, Guy Whittall, Astle was brilliantly caught at midoff by Heath Streak off a sizzling drive and the No.3 Craig McMillan was lbw to Streak's inswinger.

For the second time in the day, Zimbabwe were getting back into contention. For the second time in the day, the weather thwarted them.

Source: The Barbados Nation
Editorial comments can be sent to The Barbados Nation at nationnews@sunbeach.net