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
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.
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