DateLine: 25th October 2006
Stephen Fleming's New Zealand became the first team to reach the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy with a 51-run win over Pakistan here on Wednesday.
The Black Caps, playing their 500th one-dayer and clearly inspired by Fleming's world record 194th match as captain, bowled out Pakistan for 223 after piling up 274-7 in the day-night international.
Fleming, who overtook Sri Lankan Arjuna Ranatunga's tally of 193 one-dayers as captain, led from the front with 80 and Scott Styris hit a fluent 86 after New Zealand were given first strike.
The Kiwis overcame a wet outfield, caused by late-evening dew, that made it difficult to grip the ball to beat back Pakistan's challenge under lights at the Punjab Cricket Association ground.
Mohammad Yousuf (71) and Shoaib Malik (52) put on 94 for the fifth wicket to resurrect Pakistan's hopes after the top four batsmen had fallen by the 17th over with just 83 runs on the board.
Pakistan moved to a healthy 177-4 in the 37th over, needing 98 more from 82 balls, when pace spearhead Shane Bond swung the match New Zealand's way in his second spell.
Bond had Yousuf caught at cover by Fleming with his third delivery and then removed the dangerous Abdul Razzaq two overs later, hooking a catch to fine-leg after making six.
Bond finished with three for 45 from 10 overs while Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram picked up two wickets each.
New Zealand ended the league with two wins from three matches, ensuring themselves one of the two semi-final spots from group B.
The winner of Friday's match here between Pakistan and South Africa will take the other berth as Sri Lanka, the fourth team in the group, head home empty-handed.
The race is also wide open in group A with three teams - world champions Australia, hosts India and the West Indies - in contention with one win each so far.
The 33-year-old Fleming opened the batting and stood his ground until the 38th over to steady the faltering innings.
The Black Caps were reduced to 23-2 before being rescued by a fourth-wicket stand of 108 between Fleming and Styris.
Styris, who needed a runner in the latter part of his innings due to a back strain, smashed 10 boundaries to lead a late batting assault.
Oram slammed 31 off 26 balls as New Zealand plundered 99 runs in the last 10 overs.
The late evening dew troubled the fielding side even though local organisers had sprayed a chemical used in farming on the outfield before the start of the match to keep it dry.
The groundstaff used ropes and bedsheets to dry the surface in the second session after the fall of every wicket, but the effort proved too little as the fielders struggled to hold the wet ball.
Last week, the ICC had sprayed polyvinyl acetate, an adhesive commonly used for porous material, on the dusty wicket at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in a bid to bind the surface for the entire 100 overs of the match.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)