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KNOCK-OUT victory a Cairns bash

ICC knockout final India v New Zealand, 15. 10. 00, Nairobi, Kenya
New Zealand wins by four wickets
Article: Mathew Loh

CHRIS CAIRNS bestrode the world cricket stage like a colussus last night, when he courageously rose from injury, to inspire an awesome New Zealand victory by bowling like a miser and batting like a machine to complete a senatational century which secured the Black Caps a four wicket win over India.

Coming back from a knee problem, that has plagued him, showed how much this final meant to Cairns and his teamates and his match-winnng performance surely must have earned him the right to be classed as the sole holder of that famous title - the world's finest all-round cricketer.

Winning the toss Black Caps skipper, Stephen Fleming revealed immense confidence to send the talent-laden and very in-form Indian batsmen in first and this surprise choice began to look like a big mistake when Sachin Tendulker and Saurav Ganguly started to dispatch the ball around the Gymkhana ground with an array of delightful attacking strokes.

India were in control and looking like posting a huge match-winning score, as Tendulker and Ganguly entralled the crowd with their world class batting, when luck went the Black Caps way and Scott Styris engineered a run-out off the bowling of Nathan Astle to snare the crucial wicket of Tendulker for 69 runs off 83 balls.

However the loss of Tendulker only brought the graceful Rahul Dravid to the crease and he was supporting Ganguly well when he too was run-out by Styris off the bowling off Geoff Allot for 22. This saw the Indians at 202-2 in the 39th over and with Ganguly continuing to dominate the New Zealand attack with brilliant strokeplay the sub-continental team was still in a powerful position.

At this stage, when talented youngster Yourav Singh replaced Dravid, the Indians were not being phased at all by the Kiwi attack and only Cairns who finished with the impressive Larsenesque figures of 10 overs, 2 maidens, no wickets for 40 runs, managed to contain the opposing batsmen.

But the 43rd over saw the tone of the game change immensely when Ganguly was caught by Chris Harris off Astle's bowling after hitting a truly magnificent 117 runs in only 130 balls. This majestic tonne featured 9 fours and 4 sixes and highlighted once again the reign of Ganguly as the world's best opening bat.

With Ganguly gone the New Zealander's appeared to lift and the Indians began to struggle and only managed to add another 44 runs in the remaining seven overs to finish the innings at 264-6.

Despite not capitalising fully on their sensational start the Indians and pundits were still confident they could hold the Black Caps to under 264 and win the tournament.

While the Gymkhana, with it's fast out-field and short boundaries is a batman's paradise the Indian bowlers with Anil Kumble to the fore were expected to get on top of the Kiwis and earn their team a victory.

And with the Black Caps top order again failing to fire - Craig Spearman caught Y Singh bowled Prasad for 3, Stephen Fleming lbw Kumble for 5 - New Zealand were struggling at 37-2 in the sixth over and it appeared for all money to be India's day.

A 45 run partnership between Astle and Roger Twose went some way to righting the lurching Kiwi ship but it was Cairns who took the helm and with a batting display reminescent of the "master-blaster" Vivian Richards at his best, he set about completely annialating the Indian bowling attack.

Aided by Twose (31) , Craig McMillan (15) and the ever-reliable Harris (46) Cairns turned the game on it's head and by slamming 102 not out, including 8 fours and 2 sixes in 113 balls, he ensured a famous four wicket New Zealand victory which should set the stage for a successful sojurn in South Africa.

© Scoop Media

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