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The Electronic Telegraph Cricket Max: Lions lose their way in the zone
By Mark Nicholas in Wellington - 3 November 1997

IT MAY sound odd but over this last weekend, the Max Blacks, alias New Zealand, won two consecutive games to stun the English Lions, alias an England side, and take the three-match Cathay Pacific Cricket Max series.

An onslaught in pursuit of 97 to win by the two left-handed Blacks opening batsmen, Phil Chandler and Mark Douglas, did the trick here yesterday.

Saturday's daytime match in Hamilton was played in glorious sunshine and on a perfect batting pitch but, well as Dominic Ostler again played for England, the other batsmen struggled with their timing and with the accuracy of the bowlers. Needing 137 to win the second match - a tough ask even in a game which rewards double runs for hits into the 'Max Zone', the large target area which begins 40 metres from behind the bowler - the Lions lost their way to such a degree that 42 were needed from the final over.

The Blacks captain, former Warwickshire player Roger Twose, bowled it and Mark Alleyne, the Gloucestershire captain, hit the first three balls for 6, 12 and 6. Twose steadied himself before managing a couple of perfect yorkers and Alleyne was left a frustrated figure with the series levelled and nicely set up for yesterday's shoot-out.

Matthew Maynard won the toss yesterday, at last, and on a fast and bouncy pitch chose to bat. For the fifth consecutive innings, Ostler did him proud, though not as proud as Phillip DeFreitas, who took five for 38 with the new ball and ensured that the Blacks took the field for the last time in the series with a deficit of 26 runs.

How well they responded, due mainly to a blond dreadlocked, bombshell of a young fast bowler, Carl Bulfin, who took a wicket in his first over and engineered two run outs.

So it was that the Lions lost and so it was that New Zealand's cricket received a boost which it badly needed.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk