On October 1, 2000, Alistair Campbell scored a composed 99 not out in the third One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand in Bulawayo to seal an unlikely 2-1 series win. Guy Whittall smacked an unbeaten 28 off 14 balls to chase down a 265-run target with 13 balls to spare. Shrikant Shankar revisits a memorable day in Zimbabwe’s cricket history.
New Zealand toured Zimbabwe in the year 2000 for a two-match Test series and a three-match One-Day International (ODI) campaign. At the time, both the teams were at their respective country’s high-point. Both Zimbabwe and New Zealand had surprised many, maybe even themselves, by reaching the Super Six stage and the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup respectively. They would again reach the later stages of the 2003 World Cup. Clearly both teams had a lot of talent.
The Kiwis had comfortably won the Test series 2-0. They were the clear favourites to bag the ODI series as well. But Zimbabwe could always, at least in those days, pull of upsets in ODIs. New Zealand had the likes of Stephen Fleming, Nathan Astle, Chris Harris, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris, Shayne O’Connor and Daryl Tuffey in their ranks. The Zimbabwean team included Heath Streak, Alistair Campbell, Grant Flower, Andy Flower, Douglas Marillier, Paul Strang, Bryan Strang and Guy Whittall to name a few.
The first ODI in Harare went according to New Zealand’s plan. Zimbabwe were reduced to 183 for eight in 50 overs after Fleming had put them into bat. It was Nathan Astle, who was the pick of the bowlers with his right-arm mediums. He picked up three wickets for 24 runs in 10 overs. New Zealand chased down the total in 40.5 overs mainly due to Craig Spearman’s 86 and Roger Twose’s unbeaten 70. New Zealand won by seven wickets.
But then the series shifted to Bulawayo. And with that, lady luck favored Zimbabwe. In the second ODI, Fleming again won the toss and elected to field first. This time Zimbabwe posted a challenging total of 273 for five in 50 overs. Campbell had top-scored with 96 off 108 balls. Grant Flower scored an unbeaten 45 off 41 balls. Streak smashed two sixes in his innings of 21 not out off 11 balls to propel Zimbabwe’s score towards the end of the innings. In reply, New Zealand were bowled out for 252 in 48.5 overs. Spearman’s 62 and Twose’s 64 were not good enough on the day. Streak and left-arm spinner Dirk Viljoen took three wickets each. Zimbabwe won by 21 runs.
Zimbabwe vs New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Bulawayo
Fleming won the toss for the third consecutive time, but he elected to bat first. New Zealand openers Fleming and Astle began cautiously and seemed to be in control early on. In the ninth over, Fleming’s slow innings was put to rest by Streak for 11 off 25 balls. The Kiwi captain edged one to Andy Flower behind the wicket. Spearman joined Astle in the middle. But his stay was short as Bryan Strang dismissed him. Astle (35) soon followed in the 18th over. Paul Strang got the better of Astle. The attacking right-hander had struck six fours in his innings. New Zealand’s score was 78 for three.
Then came two good partnerships. First, a 92-run stand between Twose and McMillan for the fourth wicket. Left-handed Twose was in sublime form throughout the series and he played a fine innings. He hit three fours and four sixes in his knock of 63 off 66 balls. He fell in the 33rd over, quite surprisingly, to Campbell’s right-arm off-spin. Grant Flower took the catch. Wicketkeeper Adam Parore joined McMillan in the middle. The duo added 68 runs for the fifth wicket.
Parore was dismissed by Bryan Strang for a well-made 30 off 43 balls. The new batsman was Harris. Although McMillan was scoring quickly, he only managed four fours and one six in his innings. His 71-ball 78 came to an end when Mluleki Nkala got him out leg-before to a highly contentious decision. After that, New Zealand lost wickets at regular intervals. The likes of Harris and Styris could not do enough from lower down the order. Streak, Bryan Strang and Nkala picked up two wickets each. In the end, New Zealand could only manage a total of 264 for eight.
Zimbabwe started brilliantly in their run chase. Campbell and Marillier added 97 for the first wicket. Marillier (46) was caught by Tuffey off Glen Sulzberger in the 20th over. His innings included six fours and one six. Stuart Carlisle came out to bat and added 51 runs with Campbell. However, Carlisle was sedate and scored 30 off 51 balls. McMillan got his wicket in the 32nd over. In Walked Andy Flower. Now there were two left-handers in the middle.
The partnership between Campbell and Andy Flower turned the tide for Zimbabwe and put them in the driving seat. Their 78-run stand came at a run-rate of 6.59. Flower struck four fours and one six in his enterprising knock of 46 off 42 balls. He was eventually bowled by left-arm pacer O’Connor. Andy’s brother Grant came in and he too was bowled by O’Connor off the very next ball. Suddenly, Zimbabwe’s score was 226 for four in 43.5 overs.
Any fears of a wobble were soon put to rest by the new batsman Whittall. In the meantime, Campbell had scored his 22nd ODI half-century. Whittall was in the mood and he smacked two fours and two sixes in only 14 balls to help Zimbabwe to win the match and clinch the series 2-1. He finished on an unbeaten 28. Campbell could not complete his century as he finished unbeaten on 99 off 124 balls. He scored eight fours in his innings. The duo added 42 runs in exactly four overs. Campbell, without any surprise, was adjudged the Man of the Match.
New Zealand 264 for 8 in 50 overs (Nathan Astle 35, Roger Twose 63, Craig McMillan 78, Adam Parore 30; Mluleki Nkala 2 for 20, Heath Streak 2 for 30, Bryan Strang 2 for 56) lost to Zimbabwe 268 for 4 in 47.5 overs (Alistair Campbell 99*, Douglas Marillier 46, Stuart Carlisle 30, Andy Flower 46, Guy Whittall 28*; Shayne O’Connor 2 for 56) by 6 wickets.
Man of the Match: Alistair Campbell
(Shrikant Shankar previously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)