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Thatscricket - News - Astles fine ton takes New Zealand to 264

Published: Thursday, August 2, 2001, 19:04 [IST]
 
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Bangalore: New Zealand posted a formidable 264 at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo on Thursday in the final and crucial league encounter of the Coca Cola triangular series. The architects of New Zealands magnificent effort were Astle (108), Fleming (66) and Vincent (45). Astle and Fleming were involved in a 138-run partnership for the second wicket, which laid the platform for the final assault.Having opted to put the runs on the board, New Zealand took to a conservative approach of not losing too many wickets as it had lost wickets in a heap in its previous encounter in order to have wickets in hand for a progressive launch later on and a bang at the death. But the Black Caps got a little too conservative probably not able to strike that balance of getting runs plus preserving wickets. It also must be said that the Indian new-ball bowlers hardly bowled anything loose, bowling a sharp line. New Zealands first 10 overs yielded just 31 runs. Sinclair did not make things easy for the Black Caps as he got stuck with his run making consuming 21 deliveries for his three. However, his departure eased things to an extent as the Black Caps then pulled back slightly to be 55 at the end of 15 overs. Astle - New Zealands big hope, bide his time in an effort to build a big innings and in the company of skipper Fleming started making steady progress with the run rate. With Harbhajan and Ganguly bowling, runs were not easy to come by but, unlike on the previous occasion, the New Zealanders did the sensible thing of picking up the ones and twos and not going for rash stokes. They managed to pick up 3-4 runs per overs managing a dual performance that of keeping wickets intact and seeing of the danger bowlers. New Zealand progressed to 85 for one at the end of 24 overs.Then when Harbhajan was off the attack, they immediately went after Sehwag getting 11 off him to take New Zealand to a healthy 96 at the end of 25 overs. They then went after Sodhi who replaced Sehwag knowing very well this (Sehwag-Sodhi) was the fifth bowling option that India had after Yuvraj was held back due to the hamstring injury he suffered on Wednesday.Having grown in confidence after carting the weaker bowlers for a few big runs, they then went after Ganguly getting ten off him Fleming driving Ganguly for a couple of boundaries. Astle in the course of the over posted yet another fifty coming of 87 balls.Ganguly then had no choice but to opt for Yuvraj who, despite his handicap, was bang on with his first two overs going for just four runs. The Black Caps, however, went after Sodhi getting yet another big over off him (11) Fleming in the process getting to his half-century.New Zealand progressed to 143 at the end of 33 overs and took the partnership well past hundred to 115 in 24.3 overs.This prompted Ganguly to get back his strike bowler Harbhajan, but as the New Zealanders were into their acceleration mode they went about getting their runs to take the score to 165 at the end of 37 overs. Yuvraj, then, provided the much-needed break through when he had Fleming stumped as he tried to heave him over mid-wicket New Zealand 166 for two in the 38th over.Ganguly brought back Nehra from the other end but Nehras over yielded 11 runs (8 extras 4w, 4lb) to take New Zealand to a formidable 181 at the end of 39 overs.But India was to have some respite as Yuvraj struck again when Craig McMillan tried to reverse sweep him but ended up getting caught at backward point (Sodhi). What more, he gave away just one run. Harbhajan followed it with a three-run over to put some kind of a break on the run away Kiwis (NZ 185/3 in 41).New Zealand, however got going getting 12 off Harbhajans next over and although Yuvraj kept it tidy at one end the New Zealanders picked on the others to post 217 for three at the end of 45 overs. Zaheer Khan going for 12 Lou Vincent in particular clubbing the ball around. From then on it was all New Zealand with Astle and Lou Vincent showing no mercy picking up the boundaries at ease the next two overs yielding 22 runs (NZ 239/3 in 47 overs). Astle completed his second century of the championship in the process and Lou Vincent took his score to 31 off 28 balls. Although Astle perished going for another big one New Zealand just kept going for everything and successfully too getting a 10 plus every over. New Zealand moved to 250 at the end of 48 and 260 at the end of 49 - New Zealand losing Nash in the process holing out to the deep off Zaheer Khan. Against the run of play Nehra bowled a brilliant over giving away just four and bagging two wickets Vincent and Parore but not before Vincent had done the bulk of the damage with his cameo of 45 from 37 balls. The Black Caps ended up posting 264 at the end of 50 overs.

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