Cairns career ends in historic finale

Chris Cairns’ farewell to the BLACKCAPS ended in dramatic fashion with international cricket’s first-ever bowl off.

But it was his BLACKCAPS and State Canterbury Wizards team-mate Shane Bond who provided the finishing touches to earn a historic victory.

The Twenty20 match at Eden Park had provided ample entertainment with the BLACKCAPS chasing down the West Indies 126 with Bond’s boundary off the final delivery from Ian Bradshaw.

Five bowlers from each side were nominated for two attempts each to hit unguarded stumps and Bond was the only man to take two from two.

Scott Styris put the result beyond doubt with his delivery to claim a unique triumph for his side.

However, the night will always be remembered as Cairns’ swansong.

The Caribbean side had been known for their fast bowling prowess down the years, but their array of canny slow bowlers made life difficult for the BLACKCAPS.

The match was a thrilling exhibition of Twenty20 and a fine curtain raiser for The National Bank Series.

The BLACKCAPS produced a fine performance in the field – marked by a memorable run out by their retiring all-rounder – but found a winning target out of reach.

After Stephen Fleming won the toss and elected to field, the BLACKCAPS contained the West Indies to 126 for seven from their 20 overs.

Skipper Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Daren Ganga top-scored with 26 as the home team shone in the field.

Scott Styris and Shane Bond claimed to wickets each, while Cairns completed an inspired run out and Jeetan Patel also took a wicket.

The Windies were slow to progress, and had made 14 in the third over when World XI batter Chris Gayle was dismissed for 10, Nathan Astle giving Shane Bond a wicket with an easy catch from a lofted shot at mid-off.

Rookie tourist Runako Morton soon followed, making four before Styris trapped him lbw in the eighth over.

Cairns displayed his athleticism by running out Smith off his own bowling, before Styris claimed his second off James Franklin’s catch at mid-wicket.

Fleming introduced Patel to the attack and his tight bowling provoked Wavell Hinds, on 14 in the 14th over, to lash out with a sweep.

Hamish Marshall took the ball at long-on, and a typically quick piece of thinking and expert fielding left the Jamaican stranded and run out.

Cairns finished his final bowling spell in international cricket with no wickets for 24 runs, but an inspired run out to look back on.

The next over saw Patel claim Chanderpaul’s wicket, his attempt to hit a straight six fall inches short, straight into Marshall’s waiting hands.

And the final over gave Cairns his cameo in the field, a regulation catch to take Denesh Ramdin off Bond, who finished with a miserly 15 runs allowed from his four overs.

Lou Vincent and Fleming opened and the Aucklander kept up a steady pace on home soil.

However, the skipper was first man out, for six, caught by Deighton Butler off Jerome Taylor.

Astle made only six before becoming another Taylor victim, caught this time by an acrobatic Chanderpaul at mid-on.

Styris made progress and accumulated 19 before he was foxed by a Bravo slow ball halfway through the 10th over, bowled for 19, which introduced Cairns to the fray.

But there was no repeat of the fairytale ending to the State Shield, as he became Bravo’s second wicket, bowled for two in a carbon copy of the previous dismissal.

However, he was afforded a generous standing ovation by the appreciative Eden Park audience.

Vincent had provided the early impetus, but slowed after the 10th over, when Styris hit the hosts’ last boundary until the final over.

And the former became another casualty to the visiting slower bowlers – edging a Smith delivery onto his own stumps, having made 42.

Marshall followed soon after for one, hitting straight to Bradshaw at cover point off Gayle.

Brendon McCullum is an expert innings-finisher, but he was yorked by Smith for just four, while Gayle emulated the feat to dismiss Peter Fulton for 16.

But tail-enders Bond and James Franklin acted as closers ahead of a unique moment in world cricket.

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