BLACK CAPS ADVANCE TO AFRICAN FINAL
ICC knockout semi-final, Oct 11, Gymkana Club ground,
NEW ZEALAND versus Pakistan.
Article: Mathew Loh
INSPIRED by a superb team effort the Black Caps upset the pundits to make the ICC knock-out final in Nairobi with a sensational four wicket victory over a world-class Pakistan XI.
At altitude, on a picturesque ground with small boundaries and a fast outfield, the Pakistani captain Wasim Akram - who earlier had predicted a probable Pakistan-India final - won the toss and elected to flex his muscles by sending his talent-laden team into bat.
It proved a wise move as the elegant Saeed Anwar and mercurial youngster Imran Nazir, opening for Pakistan, set about the Kiwi attack with merciless abandon.
When Nazir fell in the 10th over to a sharp catch to Craig Spearman off the bowling of left-armer Shayne O'Connor Pakistan were 59-1 and looking ominous. The safe but stylish Yousuf Youhanna replaced Nazir at the crease and by providing the perfect foil for Anwar's stroke-play ensured his team maintained an impressive run-rate.
Indeed when Nelson struck with the score at the dreaded 111 and Youhana, 24 runs, was caught by Fleming off the gentle dobbers tossed up by Nastle Astle commentators of experience like Ralph Dellor and former West Indian paceman Colin Croft were predicting a Pakistan total in the area of 300.
However New Zealand's often derided by usually successful slow medium pacers led by Astle and Chris Harris had other ideas and by maintaining accuracy, line and length continued to taunt and tease the Pakistani batters.
This torture by slow bowling proved extremely frustrating to Pakistan and they lost patience as well as three quick wickets and with the score at 143-5 in the 30th over New Zealand were regaining the edge.
And by netting the crucial Anwar wicket when he was on 104 in the 37th over and about to go all out againt the Kiwi attack, New Zealand were definitely looking good.
It was then that O'Connor rejoined the attack and the Otago seamer proved his class with an excellent spell that saw him shut down the Pakistani batters, take four wickets, and by finishing with 5-46 he played a major role in restricting the Pakistan total to 252.
Needing 253 for a famous victory New Zealand, as usual, splutter to a poor start and were flailing in the fourth over a 15-2.
However up stepped the ever-reliable Roger Twose and with his undoubted fighting qualities complemented by his increasing skill as a batsmen he joined with Astle in securing a win for New Zealand.
When Astle was out caught-behind by Moin Khan off Azhar Mahmood New Zealand were on top at 150-3 in the 31st over and although Twose failed to get a deserved tonne when he was out at 87, the Black Caps were at 169-4 and the win was close to being in the bag.
But as Pakistan have the quality to comeback a New Zealand victory still required some work and Craig McMillan provided the backbone with a crucial 51 not out that saw the Black Caps through to a 4 wicket win in the 49th over.