Kiwis' depth carries the day

There are quite a few all-rounders in the New Zealand squad who can turn any match on its head on their day.

G. VISWANATH

Andre Adams leaves the field after New Zealand's winning performance. For his all-round display, Adams was named the `Man of the Match.'-— Pic. AFP

THE West Indies and New Zealand met at Port Elizabeth, where visitors find quite a few `Welcome to Nelson Mandela' signboards. The West Indies had arrived with a three-run victory under its belt against South Africa. Carl Hooper's team was upbeat and raring to go. The Black Caps had bungled in Bloemfontein against Sri Lanka and their captain Stephen Fleming said that he had made a mistake in not picking Daniel Vettori in the playing XI.

A no nonsense captain, Fleming knew that it could well be curtains for his team should it were to face another defeat because, by refusing to travel to the Nairobi for the match against Kenya, it had straightaway forfeited four points and a further loss of four points at Bloemfontein meant it was down by eight points. In short, the Kiwis had to stop the West Indies in its tracks in order to pick up their first four points and stay in the fray.

The odds were heavily stacked against New Zealand. Hooper won the toss and decided to offer a fresh wicket and somewhat dull conditions to his seam bowlers. Rival teams are always tempted to believe that the Kiwis are a mishmash outfit. But what they don't realise is that there are quite a few all-rounders in the New Zealand squad who can turn any match on its head on their day.

The Kiwis, their chairman of selectors Sir Richard Hadlee, in particular, believe that there is no place in the team for an individual who can do only one job. Their preparation for the World Cup was founded on this premise and they tested it against India in the home series. There were no surprises when the World Cup squad was picked, with the selectors taking time to ascertain the fitness of Chris Cairns.

The first session went to the West Indies. Hooper's decision to insert the opposition was vindicated, as the Kiwis were restricted to 241 in 50 overs. Fleming did not delay to launch the attack against Mervyn Dillon, but in the process was defeated by a slower one from the same bowler. After his exit the Kiwis never really dominated the West Indies bowlers, until the ninth wicket pair in McCullum and Adams batted bravely and enterprisingly to take the total from 188 for eight to 241. Thus Fleming had a respectable total to defend and room for some strategic manoeuvres.

Hooper, too, was pleased with his team's work. The batsman-packed West Indies had a full quota of 50 overs to make 242. Even then it needed a brisk start from Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds. But the two Jamaicans, who had been all at sea against Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini in the Cup opener at Newlands, did not find their feet, beaten by the pacemen — the brilliant Shane Bond and the smart Adams.

Quite soon the Kiwis were sensing victory, all because they were able to remove a man from the middle who could have taken the match away from them as he had done against South Africa. It was sheer luck that gave the Kiwis this big wicket. Against any team, Lara's neat placement to deep midwicket would have fetched him three runs, but Lou Vincent and Cairns combined to give themselves a run-out opportunity. Vincent took the lead from square leg because he did not want to put pressure on Cairns, who could not afford to aggravate his injury. Vincent made a sliding stop near the rope and threw the ball to Cairns standing 20 yards from the stumps. The ball travelled flat and fast from Vincent to Cairns who finished the action with a direct hit. Lara knew he was gone. West Indies lost four more batsmen by the 21st over with only 80 runs on the board.

``It was the key moment of the match. We have been trying the relayed throw for some time and it has given us results. So why not keep doing it? It's also given us our first win in South Africa,'' said a delighted Fleming after the match.

The West Indies recovered and with a bit of luck might have won the match, too. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Ridley Jacobs got enough time and overs to stage a recovery, but in the end the West Indies fell short by 21 runs. "There's no excuse. On a pitch like this it was gettable. The bowlers did a good job for us. I had to finish Dillon's 10 by the 43rd over because he's said he's not happy bowling at the death. Even then we managed to restrict them,'' said Hooper.

Adams made it a memorable match for himself by taking four wickets for 44 runs in 9.4 overs. He dismissed the opening pair in Gayle and Hinds and later Hooper and Dillon. Match Referee Mike Proctor awarded the Man of the Match prize to him as Adams had also scored an unbeaten 35.

The scores:

New Zealand: S. Fleming c and b Dillon 25; D. Vettori b Drakes 13; N. Astle c Jacobs b Hinds 46; S. Styris c Powell b Drakes 5; C. Cairns c Dillon b Hinds 37; L. Vincent c Hooper b Hinds 9; C. Harris b Gayle 19; B. McCullum (not out) 36; A. Adams (not out) 35; Extras (lb-10, nb-2, w-4) 16; Total (for seven wickets in 50 overs) 241.

Fall of wickets: 1-42, 2-58, 3-66, 4-130, 5-141, 6-147, 7-188.

West Indies bowling: Dillon 10-1-30-1, McLean 6-0-38-0, Drakes 10-1-49-2, Hinds 10-0-35-3, Hooper 9-0-42-0, Gayle 5-0-37-1.

West Indies: C. Gayle c Fleming b Adams 22; W. Hinds c Styris b Adams 14; B. Lara (run out) 2; S. Chanderpaul lbw b Oram 2; C. Hooper c Bond b Adams 3; R. Sarwan b Vettori 75; R. Powell b Oram 14; R. Jacobs c Oram b Styris 50; V. Drakes (not out) 16; N. McLean (run out) 5; M. Dillon b Adams 8; Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-5, nb-1) 10; Total (in 49.4 overs) 221.

Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-36, 3-42, 4-46, 5-46, 6-80, 7-178, 8-191, 9-200.

New Zealand bowling: Bond 10-2-43-0, Adams 9.4-1-44-4, Oram 10-2-26-2, Cairns 1-0-21-0, Vettori 10-0-38-1, Astle 4-0-14-0, Styris 5-0-31-1.