A Kiwi party: Davison has a say, too

Jacob Oram's fourth wicket — Austin Codrington is castled.-Pic. AFP

THE situation in Pool `B' was fluid. And New Zealand knew its destiny was not in its own hands.

THE situation in Pool `B' was fluid. And New Zealand knew its destiny was not in its own hands.

The Kiwis were sure to defeat Canada handsomely in their last league game in Benoni if the weather held good. However, they realised well that this result alone would not be enough to put them in the Super Sixes; the outcome of the Sri Lanka-South Africa duel would have a significant bearing on their progress.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming understood this. "All we can do is to try and win the last game because we're just passengers now. There are some scenarios, including the run-rates, that we can try and improve but, like everyone else, we'll just have to sit back and watch events unfold."

A win in Benoni would take the Kiwis to 16 points, however, in the event of South Africa defeating Sri Lanka in a day/night game in Durban, they could be in a lot of trouble, on account of a lesser run-rate.

Ideally, the Kiwis had to bundle out the Canadians for a low score and then get the runs inside 15 overs to give themselves a good chance on run-rate. That did not quite happen and New Zealand had to wait until the 23rd over for a five-wicket victory, all-rounder John Davison being the stumbling block.

Davison, the Aussie-born Canadian, had slammed the quickest hundred of the World Cup off just 67 balls, against the West Indians, and he was in a mean mood at the Willowmoore Park too.

In fact, he threatened to do much better, racing to his half-century in only 25 balls, in a breathtaking display of batsmanship. And he got the runs, without resorting to ugly tactics or slogging; these were all well-timed and innovative strokes.

The 32-year-old Davison, who turns out for South Australia, smashed the pacemen with Andre Adams going for 31 runs in his opening three overs, and Jacob Oram for 23 in his first two. Davison struck three sixes, the last one clearing the ground. Fleming was a worried man.

In fact, Davison was within striking distance of Brian Lara's record for the quickest half century in the World Cup, off 23 balls, achieved, interestingly against Canada. It indeed was awesome hitting from the Canadian.

Such was the ease with which Davison was rattling up his runs, that he appeared on course to breaking his own record for the fastest World Cup hundred. However, the aggressive opener slowed down somewhat after reaching his half-century.

Yet, when he finally fell, miscuing a stroke to Chris Cairns at long on, he had made 75 off just 62 balls (nine fours, four sixes). It still was a hurricane effort. Fittingly, a standing ovation from the crowd was in store for him.

The score was 98 for four when he left, and then skipper Joe Harris made a useful 26 off 39 balls, before gloving a Shane Bond bouncer for `keeper Brendon McCullum to pull off an outstanding catch. Austin Codrington made 25 off just 29 balls, before being castled by Oram, who made a good comeback in his second spell to finish with four for 52. There were three wickets for spearhead Bond too. However, the Canadian score of 196 in 50 overs was a creditable effort.

This also meant the Kiwis would be hard-pressed to achieve a victory in around 15 overs which would have put the pressure on Lanka, as far as the run-rate went. The Canadians clearly wanted to deny New Zealand easy runs, and this was evident when off-spinner Davison, the best bowler in the side, shared the new ball with Aashish Patel.

And having played a dazzling part with the bat, Davison now impressed with the ball, prising out Craig McMillan, Nathan Astle and Chris Cairns, who all perished in their bid to gather quick runs. These three Davison scalps plus Andre Adams' dismissal at the hands of Barry Seebaran and the early run-out of Stephen Fleming meant the Kiwis were in a spot of bother at 114 for five. However, the sixth wicket pair of Scott Styris (54 not out, 38b, 4x4, 2x6) and Chris Harris (38 not out, 29b, 4x4) carried New Zealand to victory in 23 overs.

The Kiwi win was expected, and some might argue that the blazing innings by Davison, the unexpected hero of the World Cup, was on expected lines as well.

The scores:

Canada: I. Maraj lbw b Bond 0; J. Davison c Cairns b Harris 75; N. Ifill c McCullum b Oram 7; I. Billcliff c Fleming b Styris 8; N. De Groot lbw b Oram 17; J. Harris c McCullum b Bond 26; A. Bagai b Oram 1; A. Samad lbw b Bond 12; A. Codrington b Oram 7; A. Patel b Styris 25; B. Seebaran (not out) 4; Extras (lb-1, w-12, nb-1) 14; Total (in 47 overs) 196.

Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-43, 3-80, 4-98, 5-123, 6-129, 7-152, 8-153, 9-173.

New Zealand bowling: Bond 10-3-29-3, Adams 6-0-38-0, Oram 10-1-52-4, Vettori 10-0-34-0, Styris 4-0-23-2, Harris 7-1-19-1.

New Zealand: C. McMillan c Bagai b Davison 14; S. Fleming (run out) 5; N. Astle st. Bagai b Davison 11; C. Cairns c Maraj b Davison 31; A. Adams c sub b Seebaran 36; S. Styris (not out) 54; C. Harris (not out) 38; Extras (lb-3, w-5) 8; Total (for five wickets in 23 overs) 197.

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-31, 3-32, 4-97, 5-114.

Canada bowling: Patel 3-0-32-0, Davison 10-0-61-3, Codrington 2-0-33-0, Seebaran 7-0-61-1, Ifill 1-0-7-0.