Se­ries de­cider for Black Caps

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - Mark Geenty

to en­ter the rooms. There were prob­a­bly six or seven.’’

Ni­chol­son was in his early 40s, ready and will­ing. He bor­rowed some whites from 12th man Danny Mor­ri­son and had some warmup catches with Coney. Some­how New Zealand scram­bled enough field­ers for In­dia’s sec­ond in­nings with an open­ing at­tack of Chat­field and Evan Gray, then Bracewell at first change.

Said Ni­chol­son: ‘‘They de­cided so I wouldn’t get in­volved that they’d bowl leg stump to a 7-2 on-side field. I was in the cov­ers and Paddy Great­batch at long-off, so I had about 120 yards of bound­ary to cover and all they did was step out­side leg stump and smash it through the cov­ers.

‘‘Wrighty was walk­ing across the pitch and he burst out laugh­ing. One of the bats­men, Sidhu, had stopped him and said ‘I know who Mr Coney is, but who is the lit­tle fat man in the cov­ers?’. That an­noyed me a bit be­cause I’d lost a stone and a half be­cause I was crook too.’’

Ni­chol­son’s day one re­port in­cluded pic­tures of Hadlee’s record wicket from a lo­cal TV sta­tion, which they filed home at 1am.

‘‘It was a great re­lief and the crowd went berserk. It was a big oc­ca­sion for cricket.’’

There was just one pho­to­graph of the mo­ment when Kuggeleijn grasped the catch and Hadlee fol­low­ing through, taken by K Gopinathan of the In­dian Ex­press. He later wrote how he was mocked by other pho­tog­ra­phers for his 400mm lens and for snapping every ball Hadlee de­liv­ered, hav­ing to wind the film af­ter each click.

Hadlee signed a copy for Gopinathan and the pic­ture fea­tured in his book, Rhythm and Swing. Kuggeleijn got a copy too.

‘‘Richard signed it and gave it me, ‘many thanks for shar­ing a spe­cial mo­ment’, and I got it framed and now it’s up at the Lone Star in Hamil­ton.’’

Hadlee still has the ball and ev­er­last­ing friend­ships from that match. ‘‘It’s mounted and has 374 writ­ten on it and was signed by Arun Lal and my­self. It’s a pretty shoddy look­ing ball, scarred and out of shape with no seam on it.

‘‘I saw him [Lal] many years later when he came over to do com­men­tary and we were in stu­dios work­ing to­gether. A lovely fella and in many ways he was part of his­tory the same as [San­jay] Man­jrekar was with the 400 [in Christchurch].’’ They’ve been here be­fore and done the job, New Zealand.

But if they’re to win a third suc­ces­sive one-day cricket in­ter­na­tional se­ries de­cider in the United Arab Emirates against Pak­istan to­mor­row, nor­mal trans­mis­sion needs to re­sume.

It means two of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham to shoul­der the bat­ting bur­den in Dubai and open­ers Colin Munro and Ge­orge Worker to ad­just af­ter both made poor de­ci­sions in game two in Abu Dhabi.

‘‘They’re not big mar­gins, we showed in the first game that there was some re­ally good work there and a very com­pet­i­tive to­tal, but it’s im­por­tant we do ad­dress the [bat­ting],’’ Williamson said af­ter the Black Caps’ sub-par 209-9 was over­hauled by Pak­istan with 9.3 overs to spare in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.

Taylor top scored for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive match, and was 86 not out off 120 balls at the end. Lack of sup­port led to his low strike rate, while Pak­istan’s spin­ners Mo­ham­mad Hafeez and Shadab Khan per­formed the fa­mil­iar mid-in­nings stran­gle.

Two days ear­lier Taylor an­chored the in­nings and Latham hit 68 off 64 balls as New Zealand’s 266-9 proved plenty. On th­ese slug­gish pitches par is 250, any­thing more and you’re right in it.

Se­nior men Williamson and Latham are cer­tainly due af­ter their re­spec­tive mis­for­tune in game two.

Williamson lasted just three balls be­fore Sha­heen Afridi’s long arm got a touch on a Worker drive and left him stranded, run out. Latham was Afridi’d too, the teenage quick de­liv­er­ing a yorker Waqar You­nis in the com­men­tary box would have been proud of as the left-han­der de­parted sev­enth ball.

With­out the in­jured Martin Gup­till the open­ing partnership is a work in progress. Munro (13 off 10) crashed Afridi for six then tried to re­peat next ball and was caught, ju­di­cious shot se­lec­tion still his work-on in ODI cricket.

Worker (28 off 50) dis­played his frus­trat­ing ten­dency to get bogged down early, then charged too hard at Hafeez and got in a tan­gle.

‘‘We never re­ally fired a shot,’’ said Williamson.

Hav­ing won the 2009 and 2014 ODI se­ries de­ciders against Pak­istan in the UAE, this one will pro­vide a test of how quickly the Black Caps ad­just in their first big ‘fi­nal’ of a lengthy World Cup buildup, a lit­tle over six months out.

With the ball New Zealand were play­ing catch-up, even more so when the first wicket didn’t fall un­til the 29th over as Fakhar Za­man and Babar Azam swung hard.

There was a hint of swing but not for long for game one hat-trick man Trent Boult and Tim Southee. The strike duo went for a wick­et­less 108 off 19.3 overs, and might tempt Williamson and coach Gary Stead to con­sider gam­bling on an in-form Matt Henry for Southee in the de­cider.

Lockie Fer­gu­son has been the big mover and looks an ever-strength­en­ing bet to be pen­cilled into the World Cup squad, his pace and hos­til­ity a key point of dif­fer­ence.

Hav­ing taken 3-36 two days ear­lier Fer­gu­son took 3-60 in game two, and ended opener Imam-ul-Haq’s night when he rat­tled his hel­met grille. Imam hit the ground then was wob­bly on his feet but he was later cleared by scans in hospi­tal.

The ball skid­ded on un­der lights and Fer­gu­son was a hand­ful from around the wicket with leg side catch­ers, a sim­i­lar ap­proach to Neil Wag­ner in the tests.

‘‘It’s not some­thing we do all the time but we were so far be­hind the game we were try­ing to make a few plays,’’ Williamson said.

‘‘It came at a nice height and a nice speed, and most third graders would have caught it.’’ NZ catch-taker Chris Kuggeleijn

GETTY IM­AGES

Richard Hadlee in the Ban­ga­lore dress­ing room with his world record test wicket-taking ball in 1988 and, be­low, salut­ing the crowd af­ter snar­ing vic­tim 374.

PHOTOSPORT

Pak­istan cel­e­brate an­other New Zealand wicket in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.

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