Kiwis ride high on Fleming century in charity tie

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Christchurch:New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming smashed an extraordinary 106 off just 57 balls to lead his cricket team to an easy nine-wicket win over a rusty World XI at Jade Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.

The match -- the first in a series of three to raise funds for tsunami relief -- captured the attention of fans with the top two bowlers in Test history in Australia's Shane Warne and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan bowling together for the first time.

But Fleming stole the show, hitting nine sixes and 10 fours and it was Warne and especially Muralitharan who bore the brunt of the onslaught. Fleming hit three sixes off the bemused Muralitharan's first over and repeated the feat in his second.

The writing was on the wall for the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) World side when they floundered against an efficient New Zealand bowling attack to be all out for 158.

Fleming, who opened the New Zealand batting with Nathan Astle (36 not out) could have cruised to victory but his stunning form ensured the home side got home in 16.1 overs at a scoring rate of 10 an over.

Muralitharan was mauled for 57 runs in his 3.1 overs and the world's second highest ever wicket taker in Tests with 532 wickets was helpless as Fleming smashed him all over Jade Stadium. Warne, the skipper of the international side and the world's top Test bowler with 566 wickets, ended with figures of 1-26 off three overs. Fleming showed his intent immediately when Muralitharan joined the attack, hitting the first two balls for six, reaching his half-century off the first. His first 50 came in 35 balls and his remaining 56 in just 29.

Astle was somewhat streaky in support, being dropped off three difficult chances but he hit Muralitharan for four in the 17th over to seal victory.

New Zealand's bowling attack set up the win, helped by some rash shots by the World XI batsmen.

Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori's guile and control saw him return 3-33 off 9.3 overs for New Zealand while Kyle Mills and Daryl Tuffey did the damage at the top of the innings, taking 2-30 and 2-25 respectively.

Only former England batsman Graeme Hick (44) and South African Jonty Rhodes (36) offered significant resistance with their fifth wicket partnership of 79 runs after the star-studded side collapsed to be 20-4 in the sixth over.

Their departures set off another collapse, with four wickets falling in the space of just 14 runs.

Warne (26) and Chaminda Vaas (20) added a touch of respectability to the meagre total but it was clearly never going to be enough on a benign pitch.

The second match of the series, which has the aim of raising more than one million New Zealand dollars (670,000 US) for the victims of the Asian tsunami, will be played in Wellington on Monday and the last in Hamilton two days later.

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