|Scorecard:||New Zealand v West Indies|
This much awaited day ended up as being one of New Zealand cricketís most memorable ever. In (unbelievably) their first game at Lordís, the Black Caps were determined to win this NatWest Series as to lift them to their all time high of second in the world one day ratings.
As expected, the unimaginative Lara focused on the past rather than the future and inserted New Zealand on a pitch expected to be at itís best early on as opposed to later in the match as this series has seen so far. In between rain breaks New Zealand posted in the end a rather disappointing 266 but that turned out to be more then enough.
The openers, Fleming and Astle put on an electric partnership of 120 at nearly run a ball pace. Fleming was in fine touch and caressed the ball along the ground and in the air seemingly a will. Astle was slightly slower but still just as eye catching with his offside drives being enough to bring even the stalest of MCC members to their feet. They both went in quick succession and were soon followed by Styris. The innings was put back on track with a fine partnership between McMillan and Marshal that was notable for some great running between the wickets. Marshall again played a decisive knock while McMillan, in his first meaningful knock for weeks hit a bold 52. New Zealand collapsed somewhat at the end as the West Indies bowlers came back well with the Black Capsí last five wickets falling for 17.
In response the West Indies were never in the hunt on a slow pitch and after the cursory spells by New Zealandís fast bowlers Harris and Vettori took centre stage. The New Zealand left-arm spinner claimed career best figures of 5-30 as the West Indies capitulated. Harris took only one wicket but it was his much-awaited two hundredth that was appropriately caught by long time team mate Chris Cairns. New Zealand rapped up the match in the near dark, reminiscent of the 1975 World Cup fittingly with a run out, their third of the innings.
New Zealand has totally dominated the West Indies and outclassed them with bat, ball and most of all in the field. At times the West Indies resembled a very poor club team and their slack attitude will cost them hugely in the future. There is no doubt that they have talent but that needs to be enhanced by an imaginative and inspirational leader. At this point in time one wonders just whether Lara fits that bill. There is however no doubt about Flemingís credentials and he is, at this point in time the most successful one day batsmen in the world for 2004. This is reflected in New Zealandís superb results which have seen them win 13 one dayers out of 16 this year and be undefeated in their last 10, while winning nine of these. This is New Zealandís best run since the 1992 World Cup and we will see just how far the national side has come when they come up against Australia at Septemberís Champions Trophy. Test form though is a worry but given the current confidence of this side and the fact that New Zealandís next test assignment is against lowly Bangladesh the New Zealand test team might just be full of confidence when it undergoes the much awaited tour of Australia in November. New Zealandís top order batting has been good in both forms of the game on this tour and the right bowling mix has finally been found with some good variations. In another coup for New Zealand cricket Oram and Fleming rose to there highest ever positions in the one day player rankings. Fleming is now the 8th best batsman in the world whilst Oram continues to complete his remarkable transformation as a cricketer and is now ranked 5th in the world with the ball in the shorter game.
New Zealand 266 all out in 49.2 overs (S.Fleming 67, N.Astle 57, H.Marshall 44, C.McMillan 52, D.W.Smith 10-1-27-1, R.Sarwan 6-0-31-3) beat West Indies 159 all out in 41.2 overs (D.S.Smith 44, B.Lara 30, S.Chanderpaul 31, J.Oram 8-2-26-1, C.Harris 10-0-45-1, D.Vettori 9.2-1-30-5) by 107 runs and win the NatWest Series 2004. Man of the Match: Daniel Vettori.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Jim Ellingham)
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