New Zealand Cruises To Super 8s Victory Over Bangladesh

Tuesday, April 3rd 2007, 7:36 am
By: News On 6

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) _ Not even Stephen Fleming's unbeaten century and Hamish Marshall's six off the final ball could disguise it.

There was nothing super about Monday's World Cup Super 8s game.

New Zealand cruised to 178 for one in Antigua to easily pass Bangladesh's 174 all out with more than 20 overs to spare. The fact that the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground was less than a quarter full spoke volumes for the lack of interest in the game.

The Caribbean festival of cricket badly needed a lift after host West Indies lost for the third time in a row on Sunday. Captain Brian Lara's team looks almost certain to miss out on the semifinals, which are still more than three weeks away.

``These are really desperate times, and the guys have to pick themselves up and know what is in front of them,'' Lara said after a 113-run defeat to Sri Lanka followed losses to Australia and New Zealand.

``We've got to get into the frame of mind of winning everything from now on. We didn't play like it was a crucial World Cup match.''

Lara's team still has three games to play, which may become meaningless.

That meant the World Cup needed an upset Monday to liven things up. It never happened and Fleming's team now looks like a strong bet to challenge defending champion Australia for the title.

They are tied with six points at the top of the Super 8s standings, with Sri Lanka third with four.

The format of this 16-team, eight-week championship was supposed to make sure that the top eight competitive teams made it to the second round. But India and Pakistan were knocked out and Bangladesh and Ireland made it to the Super 8s instead.

On Tuesday, the Irish face South Africa, which is celebrating being officially named the top one-day team in the world, according to the rankings of the International Cricket Council.

Captain Graeme Smith's team needs the victory to stay behind Australia and New Zealand in the Super 8s and even with Sri Lanka.

So far, neither Bangladesh nor Ireland have scored a Super 8s point in the competition.

Bangladesh initially looked capable of compiling a respectable total with Aftab Ahmed and Saqibul Hasan taking the score to 105-2 by the 29th over.

But Scott Styris sparked a collapse in which five wickets fell for 14 runs, and only a last-wicket stand of 34, with Mohammad Rafique finishing on 30 not out, lifted the Bangladesh score.

Styris took 4-43, Jacob Oram 3-30 and Shane Bond 2-15.

``It was a good day again, we bowled extremely well and that was where the game was won,'' said Fleming, whose country has been to four semifinals but never the final.

Although Peter Fulton went for 15 at 44-1, it was never really a contest. Fleming made his eighth one-day century but only really opened up with the winning line in sight against a Bangladesh bowling attack that had no depth.