Pune: A late resistance by Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum helped New Zealand overcome a top-order collapse and post a competitive 258 for nine against Australia in the One-day cricket tri-series match on Monday. The Faridabad spectre returned to haunt the Kiwis as they were reduced to 68 for five in 15 overs before a dogged fightback by Fleming (40) and career-best knocks by Oram and McCullum rendered respectability to the New Zealand total. While Oram made an 89-ball 81 with the help of 12 fours and a six, McCullum remained unbeaten on a 47-ball 51 (6x4, 1x6).
It looked all too familiar to what happened in the teams' previous match at Faridabad last week when New Zealand were bowled out for 97 in 34 overs by the awesome Aussies. But this time the Kiwis, who were put into bat by rival skipper Ricky Ponting, stemmed the rot and did well to bat out he 50 overs. The overnight moisture and dew meant the Aussie quickies got a lot of assistance from it early on as was evident in the way the Kiwi batsmen -- Chris Nevin (0), Lou Vincent (1), Scott Styris (0) and Craig McMillan (0) followed one after the other to the pavilion.
But as the match progressed the pitch eased up and batting was made to look easy by Fleming and Oram who put on 62 runs for the sixth wicket. The delightful knock by McCullum capped the creditable effort by the Kiwis and ensured their bowlers would have a total to back them up against their Trans-Tasman rivals. As in Faridabad, the Australian bowlers were again guilty of straying in line and conceded as many as 32 wides, equivalent to more than five overs, in the total extras that read 38.
Oram exploited the chinks in Australian bowling to hammer 12 fours while key all- rounder Chris Cairns, who struck a 29-ball 27 with the help of five fours, and Fleming also played some delectable shots to entertain the sizeable crowd at the Nehru Stadium. And credit should go to these Kiwi batsmen for not succumbing to pressure and managing to rally from what seemed a hopeless situation. Speedster Brad Williams had yet another impressive outing as he polished off the cream of the batting-line up to return figures of 6-1-26-4 in his first spell.
Williams returned to dismiss Chris Harris in his second spell but came in for punishment from McCullum who hammered him for a six in the eighth over and consecutive fours in the ninth. Opener Nevin was the first to go in the fourth over of the match when he was trapped leg before by Williams for his second duck on the trot. Williams then dismissed Scott Styris and McMillan, both for ducks, in almost identical fashion with the ball swinging in sharply as the Kiwis cut a sorry figure at 11 for three. But Williams' best of the day was yet to come as he uprooted the off and middle stumps of Craig McMillan (0) in a spectacular fashion with a beauty of a delivery to have the Kiwis in deep mire at 21 for four.
Fleming, who came into the match determined to strike form after listless shows on the tour so far, showed application even as wickets kept falling in heap around him. He batted sensible in company of match-winning all-rounder Chris Cairns who had his first look-in the series after missing his side's previous match at Faridabad and never getting a chance to bat in the rain-abandoned opener at Chennai. Together they stitched a 47-run partnership before Cairns was tricked by a Williams delivery and was adjudged leg-before wicket for 27.
New-man Oram came in with the score reading 68 for five and changed the complexion of the game completely. The display of good batting technique eased the pressure on Fleming as he started to cut loose and hit Ian Harvey for two fours in an over. But Fleming became over-ambitious and paid the price for it when he lofted Andrew Symonds to offer a dolly to Harvey who had earlier failed to latch on to a catch off his own bowling when Fleming was on 18.
But even after Fleming departed at 151, Oram did not look perturbed and found an able partner in McCullum as the duo took the total beyond the 200-run mark. Oram was finally clean bowled by Symonds in the 44th over but he had done his job by then. Gritty left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori too chipped in with a valuable 15-ball 18.