WC 2003 - Zimbabwe, Kiwis out to prove their worth in Super Sixes

Published: Friday, March 7, 2003, 22:07 [IST]
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Bloemfontein: Zimbabwe and New Zealand will each have a point to prove when they meet in their opening World Cup Super Six match on Saturday.Both teams scraped into the second phase of the tournament thanks to some lucky breaks which went their way. In Zimbabwe's case, England's refusal to play its match in Harare gifted Heath Streak's men four points by forfeit. And the fact that their final Group A match against Pakistan was a wash-out saw the co-hosts claim the third and last qualifying spot at the expense of both the Asian giants and England.New Zealand itself forfeited a match by refusing to play fellow Super Six qualifier Kenya in Nairobi on security grounds. It qualified in nail-biting fashion when South Africa's rain-affected tie with Sri Lanka saw the hosts go out when it needed just one more run for victory under the Duckworth-Lewis method.The teams combined failure to win a match against any of its fellow qualifiers has placed it at the bottom of the Super Six standings with New Zealand on four points and Zimbabwe 3.5.That makes victory for the African co-hosts all but essential if they are to maintain any hopes of a semi-final spot and have their World Cup campaign remembered for their cricket rather than the protests by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga against the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.But pace bowler Streak insisted his side deserved their place among world cricket's elite. "All of the guys are elated to have got to the Super Sixes," said Streak."It's so special because everyone has worked so hard and now we have got three big games coming up." Zimbabwe was one of the few teams to give reigning champions Australia, unbeaten at the World Cup so far, a truly meaningful contest."We challenged the Australians really closely when they played us in Bulawayo so we are hopeful that we can prove to everyone that we deserve to be in the Super Six," Streak added.New Zealand will be most people's favourites as they have several match-winners in the likes of captain Stephen Fleming, all-rounder Chris Cairns and batsman Nathan Astle.Only Andy Flower appears to be in the same class for Zimbabwe, but the result may not be a foregone conclusion. Zimbabwe, coached by former Australia batsman Geoff Marsh, has won both its last two One-day series against New Zealand. In the aggressive Andy Blignaut it also has a hard-hitting stroke player who is finding form at just the right time.As for Fleming, whose side are tipped by many to be best-equipped to derail Australia, he is simply happy his team are still in the tournament. "We are just delighted to go through. It just doesn't get any closer than that," he said referring to the nail biting wait his men endured as South Africa fluffed its lines against Sri Lanka. The teams: Zimbabwe (from): Heath Streak (captain), Andy Blignaut, Dion Ebrahim, Sean Ervine, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Travis Friend, Douglas Hondo, Douglas Marillier, Brian Murphy, Henry Olonga, Tatenda Taibu, Mark Vermeulen, Guy Whittall and Craig Wishart.New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming (captain), Andre Adams, Nathan Astle, Shane Bond, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Brendon McCullum, Craig McMillan, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Matthew Sinclair, Scott Styris, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori and Lou Vincent.Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) and Darrel Hair (Australia)TV umpire: Asoka De Silva (Sri Lanka)Match referee: Gundappa Viswanath (India)Copyright AFP 2001


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