Zimbabwe in India, Feb-Mar 2002
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India won by 101 runs
India 333/6 (50 ov)
Zimbabwe 232 (42.1/48 ov)

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Who scored Zimbabwe’s first one-day international hundred?
(16 March 2002)

Zimbabwe’s first match in the 1987 World Cup was to witness one of the great innings in one-day cricket. John Traicos’ men were up against a New Zealand side led by Jeff Crowe at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, Hyderabad. Richard Hadlee was one notable name missing from Crowe’s side; the legendary fast bowler had refused to tour India. But the presence of Jeff’s brother, the peerless Martin Crowe, and several other fine players meant that New Zealand still remained overwhelming favourites.

Strangely, despite having these very talented batsmen in his side, Jeff Crowe decided to open with Martin Snedden, who was in the side primarily as a new-ball bowler. It was, however, a move that was to pay handsome dividends. Snedden made 64, Martin Crowe 72, while Jeff and wicket-keeper Ian Smith chipped in with useful hands to guide their team to a useful total of 242 for seven in their 50 overs.

The Zimbabwe chase got off to the worst possible start, opener Robin Brown being dismissed for just one. This saw Dave Houghton striding out to the middle in the third over of the innings. Houghton had earlier kept wickets in the sapping Hyderabad heat for 50 overs; once at the batting crease, however, he seemed prepared for a long battle. A long wait for an ally awaited him as batsman after batsman came and went. Zimbabwe were 104 for seven when Houghton’s search finally came to an end.

Iain Butchart, playing what was to be his finest innings in international cricket, came to the aid of Zimbabwe and Houghton. Batting aggressively, the duo began to mount a recovery that was marvellous both conception and execution. Houghton, in particular, was at his improvising best; he unleashed a magnificent array of sweeps, reverse-sweeps and pulls as the Zimbabwean innings suddenly began to gallop with a purpose.

The exhibition of reverse-sweeping that he put on did not worry just his opponents; the Zimbabwean think-tank too started fretting. Traicos, at one stage, even sent out a man to ask Houghton to desist from playing the shot, but Houghton, in turn, sent him back saying that he was too tired and could not hear anything!

By the time he had raised the first one-day international hundred by a Zimbabwean, Houghton was very tired, and sweat was literally pouring out of the holes of his shoes. To make matters worse for the side, he began to cramp up after Zimbabwe had gone past 200.

Unable to run any longer and finding it difficult to even stand, Houghton told Butchart that he would try to score boundaries. He hit Snedden for four fours in an over before Martin Crowe raced back 30 metres or so to hold on to a brilliant catch that was to end the Houghton spectacular at 142. The Zimbabwean maestro struck 13 fours and six sixes in his innings.

After his departure, the late-order batsmen who followed found the pressure too hot to handle. When Butchart became the last wicket to fall, tragically run-out for 54, Zimbabwe were just a boundary away from victory. Houghton, though, did not go unrewarded; he was named Man of the Match, a rare honour for a player from a losing side.

For more details on all the above facts check out [ StatsGuru ]


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