WC 2003 - Astles 13th-ODI century sees Kiwis home by six wickets
Published: Sunday, March 9, 2003, 4:13 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Zim WC injury jinx continues, Murphy tears calf muscle
Streak, Taibu help Zim to post a completive target
Bloemfontein: Nathan Astle's 13th One-day International century got New Zealand's bid for a World Cup semi-final spot off to a winning start as it beat Zimbabwe by six wickets in the Super Six match here at Goodyear Park on Saturday.Chasing 253 for victory, Astle, with an unbeaten 102, and Chris Cairns, 54, shared a crucial fourth wicket stand of 121 in 151 balls as the Black Caps wrapped up victory with 16 balls to spare.The win has now boosted New Zealand's points total to eight having carried forward four from the first round while Zimbabwe, still with 3.5, is now virtually out of the running for a semi-final spot.However, there were still some nervous moments at the end for New Zealand. Cairns, having brought up his fifty with a six off Sean Ervine, was bowled next ball to leave his team still needing 35 off 36 balls for victory. It was left to veteran Chris Harris, with 14 not out, to hit the winning boundary."At half time it was 50-50, we were disappointed the way we finished in the field," said New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming after his team conceded 62 runs in the last three overs."Giving so many runs in the end is not the ideal thing and we have to work on it. But the batters did well. The wicket got easier in the afternoon, it was a fast outfield and it was a case of getting a few good partnerships going."Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak said his team did not put enough runs on the board. "We fought back towards the end of our innings, but I think we still fell some 30 runs short," said Streak who made an unbeaten 72 off 84 balls."The injury to Brian Murphy did not help because we were a bowler short. There were not enough runs in the end, but we were beaten by a better team. Good luck to New Zealand."Defending 252 for seven, Zimbabwe was always up against it after it was forced to start the second innings without leg spinner Murphy who had torn a calf muscle while practising in the nets during the lunch break.Fleming took full advantage of Zimbabwe being a bowler short as he hit a blistering 42-ball 46, with 10 boundaries, which threatened to take the game away entirely from the African side.But, four short of his fifty, Fleming fell lbw to Andy Blignaut. Travis Friend, who had already had an impact in the build-up to the match by giving team-mate Mark Vermeulen a skull fracture when bowling in the nets on Friday, made a positive contribution fielding as 12th man.He caught Scott Styris for 13 on the midwicket boundary off Blignaut to leave New Zealand on 97 for three. Zimbabwe then made a costly error when Cairns, on 21, top-edged a sweep off spinner Grant Flower only for another substitute Douglas Marillier to put down the catch as he ran in from behind square.Earlier, Streak inspired a late run blitz to help his side recover to 252 for seven. Streak and wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu, who made a career-best 53, put on 68 for the seventh wicket after the Africans had collapsed to 106 for six after winning the toss.