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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 12:06 GMT

The agony and the ecstasy
By Sean Martin
BBC Sport's resident Kiwi

Scott Styris
Scott Styris steered the Kiwis to victory over Canada...
It was the kind of day loved by both masochists and statisticians.

New Zealand began it needing to beat Canada to have a chance of making the Super Six round of the World Cup.

But to give their prospects a further boost, they had to hand the minnows a good old-fashioned hiding to give their run-rate an injection and then wait for the outcome of Sri Lanka's match against South Africa.

The toss was won by skipper Stephen Fleming and I could watch the first 30 minutes of action before leaving for work.

But John Davison went berserk in the opening overs to scupper the hopes of skittling the part-timers for next-to-nothing.

Trust an Australian to throw a spanner in the works of the Kiwi dream.

But by the end of the innings New Zealand had a comfortable total to chase.

It was time for the calculations. To increase their run-rate the Kiwis had to try and score 197 in double-quick time.

BBC Sport's Sean Martin
...then the waiting began for fans around the globe...

The innings turned into a slog-fest and when the first over yielded 13 runs I was optimistic we could finish the job inside 20 overs.

Then came the slump, orchestrated by Davison, and victory, let alone a quick triumph, momentarily appeared out of our grasp.

After a few hiccups and a few expletives shouted at the television in the office some the cool head of Scott 'Billy Ray' Styris saw us home in 23 overs.

It was now up to others.

The scenario was clouded.

I didn't know who to cheer for. We would be through if South Africa walloped Sri Lanka, if Sri Lanka won and if rain forced the game to be abandoned.

As soon it became clear that Sri Lanka were not going to be dismissed cheaply I was fully behind them.

When South Africa were 149-5 I allowed myself to begin to believe we were into the second round.

BBC Sport's Sean Martin
....before finally there was sheer joy
That confidence turned to nervous pacing as South Africa began to close in on their victory target.

Then the rain came down. That subconscious rain dance had worked. But the umpires took an age in coming off the field. It was a monsoon and no-one wanted to go anywhere.

It was as if there was a conspiracy to allow South Africa to advance instead of us. Then they came off.

A friend in New Zealand sent me a text message saying "Keep raining". It did, and the Kiwis were there - courtesy of some South African miscalculations.

The hand-wringing could stop and I could start eyeing up our Super Six opposition.





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