NZ win cup in thriller

LINCOLN, New Zealand, Reuters

New Zealand wrested the Cricinfo Womens Cricket World Cup from Australia by four runs on Saturday in a thrilling final at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

Off spinner Clare Nicholson had Australia’s No 10 batsman, Charmaine Mason, caught behind by Rebecca Rolls with the first ball of the last over to win the game. Australia had needed just five runs off the remaining six balls to retain the cup they won in India in 1996.

Australia’s captain Belinda Clark was the mainstay of the holder’s quest for 185 to win, hitting 91 off just 102 deliveries. But when Clark fell, bowled by Nicholson in the 42nd over with the score at 150, it was the turning point in New Zealand’s favour.

The game see-sawed throughout, with New Zealand disappointed to post only 184 runs in their innings, with Kathryn Ramel top scoring on 41 and opener Rebecca Rolls hitting 34.

New Zealand’s most experienced player, 38-year-old Debbie Hockley, bowed out of international cricket after five world cups, with 24 runs.

Australia’s chase began disastrously with the holders at one stage two down for two wickets. But Clark, who looked at ease throughout, then combined in an 83 run partnership with Cherie Bambury which appeared to have won the game. But New Zealand managed to take wickets regularly and when Clark finally went, it was a case of who held their nerve till the finish.