Christchurch: It was indeed the gift of the Millennium. Hosts New Zealand did the impossible as they beat defending champions and strong contenders Australia by four runs to clinch the Women's World Cup 2000 at the BIL Oval on Saturday.The champagne bottles were out and the Kiwis were into early Christmas celebration as the mighty Aussies were brought down - their first ever defeat in the tournament - despite the magnificent effort of man-of-the-match Belinda Clark.Australia chasing a fairly easy target of 185 runs for victory after restricting New Zealand to 184 were bowled out for 180 runs with five balls to spare. Katrina Keenan, Rachel Pullar and Clare Nicholson shared the bowling honours by claiming two wickets apiece.Australia began disastrously when they lost the wicket of consistent performer Lisa Keightley with no runs on the board. Vice-captain Karen Rolton soon followed as Australia were reduced to two for two in the third over. Belinda Clark and Cherie Bambury then added 83 runs to revive the innings.But the fall of Cherie's wicket saw a procession of Australian batsmen to and from the pavilion. Belinda Clark fought a lone battle with wickets tumbling around her. The fall of Belinda's wicket gave the hosts the upper hand. The match, however, went to the wire with the Aussie tail waging a grim battle. Belinda top scored on 91 runs off 102 balls with eight hits to the fence.Australia required four runs from the final over, which was bowled by Clare Nicholson with almost all the Kiwi hearts beating a skip. Clare Nicholson struck of her very first delivery and the New Zealand women were cock a hoop with joy. This was sweet revenge for New Zealand as they had lost Australia in the final in the 1997 edition at India.Earlier, New Zealand batting first on winning the toss were bowled out for 184 in 48.4 overs. Kathyrn Ramel made 41 runs from 63 balls with three hits to the fence, while Rebecca Rolls (34 runs, 47 balls, six fours), Debbie Hockley (24) and Emily Drumm (21) contributed usefully.The only consolation for the Aussies was that opener Lisa Keightley was crowned as the man-of-the-series.
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