Twose leads Kiwis to the final frontier

The Hawks that spiralled all day on the thermals around the ground probably sensed easy pickings, but New Zealand are not the meek lambs they were a few years ago. Set a target of 253 by Pakistan, after Saeed Anwar had scored his 19th one-day hundred, they triumphed by four wickets here with an over to spare.

The Hawks that spiralled all day on the thermals around the ground probably sensed easy pickings, but New Zealand are not the meek lambs they were a few years ago. Set a target of 253 by Pakistan, after Saeed Anwar had scored his 19th one-day hundred, they triumphed by four wickets here with an over to spare.

Their victory, the closest of the tournament so far, was largely due to the nerveless batting of Craig McMillan, who made 51, and Scott Styris. Coming together in the 38th over, with the score 187 for 6, the pair added an unbeaten 66 in 11 overs, after Roger Twose's 87 had given the innings impetus.

Styris contributed just 28, but it was his mighty six off Arshad Khan with 17 runs wanted from 18 balls that relieved the pressure of the chase.

It could and should have been different had substitute Faisal Iqbal kept his head seven overs earlier when Styris attempted a suicidal single to backward point. With 52 runs still required, all that was needed was an accurate underarm throw. Instead, Faisal's return went high and hard over the wicketkeeper Moin Khan's head, which cost Pakistan four overthrows.

On such slight errors do big games hang, and New Zealand will now meet the winners of tomorrow's semi-final between India and South Africa, a team no doubt pondering the life ban imposed by the United Cricket Board on their former captain Hansie Cronje.

Many believe that the temptation to rig matches would disappear if the prize money for tournaments was improved. So far, New Zealand are guaranteed $260,000 (£180,000) even if they lose Sunday's final, which is worth $250,000 to the winner.

The Kiwis gave a spirited display, inspired by Twose's aggressive batting. Indeed, his contribution might have won the man of the match award had Shayne O'Connor's 5 for 46 not been the best figures of the tournament so far.

The irony, as far as England are concerned, is that Twose is an Englishman, though one that never stood out enough in county cricket for Warwickshire to even warrant a mention of international honours. Yet in 68 one-day internationals Twose averages over 40, more than any England player in the current squad.

Nasser Hussain's men cannot take too much heart from the Kiwis' win. Apart from the lack of due care and attention shown by Pakistan's middle-order, there is still plenty for England to worry about over the coming months. On yesterday's evidence, opener Anwar is one of them and, wielding his bat as deftly as a squash racket, he notched up his second century of the tournament.

Just as feared will be Inzamam-ul-Haq who, having shed a stone or two, was looking unrecognisably trim. Here, he did not even bother to wear a thigh pad, though this absence of baggage did not enable him to turn more quickly. Normally Inzi is prone to being run out. This time, he was stumped, Adam Parore whipping off the bails as the batsmen went on a careless walkabout against Nathan Astle.

It was the first in a trio of strange dismissals which in the recent but murky past of the bookies may have raised a few eyebrows. Ijaz Ahmed, batting lower than usual, chipped a simple return catch to Chris Harris, while Moin Khan ran himself out after being sent back for a run that was never on.

The all-round skills of Abdur Razzaq, who scored a brisk 48 and, Azhar Mahmood, who took four wickets, must also be noted by England, who are already aware of the skills available to Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq. Yesterday, Pakistan were careless, something their demanding fans at home will not tolerate when England arrive there next week.

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