Bevan's century is 'one of the greats'

New Zealand 245-8 Australia 248-8 Australia win by two wickets
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The Independent Online

Michael Bevan hit a century – rated by his captain, Steve Waugh, as "one of the great one-day innings" – as Australia beat New Zealand here to keep alive their chances of reaching the VB Series final. The left-hander's unbeaten 102 inspired the Australians to a thrilling two-wicket win, after they had been reduced to 82 for 6 in pursuit of 245 for 8.

Just as New Zealand looked set to knock the Australians out of the triangular series, which also involves South Africa, Bevan – Leicestershire's new signing – came to the rescue, going on to reach his century off 93 balls. Andy Bichel hit the winning boundary with three balls to spare.

A relieved Waugh said: "We needed someone to stand up – it was one of the great one-day innings of all time. We just hung in there and got the rewards in the end. We left it pretty late, but it was a fantastic win."

The New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, was reported by the umpires for complaining that Australia had more than their allowed two fielders outside the circle in the first 15 overs.

After four defeats in six matches in the series, Australia came into the match perilously close to an exit. The Kiwis, looking likely to claim a final place, set a challenging total with Chris Cairns and Fleming hitting half-centuries.

With the visiting pace bowlers Shane Bond and Dion Nash in sparkling form with the new ball, the Australians struggled to compete, with Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn all giving up their wickets cheaply.

Shane Warne formed a 61-run partnership with Bevan before falling to Adams. But by then Bevan was in his stride and fashioned a partnership of 81 with Brett Lee before the pace bowler was caught by Nathan Astle off Bond to leave a tense final two overs which culminated with the No 10 batsman, Bichel, hitting his boundary with three balls to spare.

Earlier, Glenn McGrath, who took 2 for 41, was once again the pick of the Australian bowling attack. However, it was Bevan who stole the glory. "It is always nice to have a big knock under pressure," Bevan said. "Not at any stage did I entertain the thought of winning this match."

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