Birthday special: Andy Flower – Top five knocks by Zimbabwe’s best batsman

Andy Flower was the torch-bearer for the Zimbabwe cricket team from his debut in 1992 to 2002. Born in South Africa, he featured in 63 Tests and scored 4794 runs at a brilliant average of 51.55 with 12 centuries and 27 half-centuries. While in 213 ODIs he got 6786 runs at 35.34 with 4 centuries and 55 half-centuries. As he turns 54, here is a look at his top five knocks –

199* vs South Africa, 2001

Batting first in the first Test of a two-match series at Harare, massive tons from Gary Kirsten (220), Herschelle Gibbs (147), and Jacques Kallis (157) took South Africa to 600/3 declared. Flower fought a lone battle (142 from 200) but could not evade a follow-on as Zimbabwe tumbled to 286. He followed that with an unbeaten 199 from 470 deliveries and missed a double ton in the second innings as he ran out of partners. Even though Zimbabwe lost by 9 wickets, Flower’s twin tons evaded an innings defeat for his team.

183* vs India, 2000

During India’s tour in 2000, Flower played another gem at Delhi after Zimbabwe won the toss. On the back of his 351-ball 183*, the visitors posted 422 in the first innings. A double ton from Rahul Dravid (200) and a century from Sachin Tendulkar (122) meant that India finished 458 before bowling Zimbabwe out for 225, and chasing the target of 190 to win by 7 wickets.

232* vs India, 2000

In the second Test of the same series, Flower notched up a career-best 232* after Zimbabwe was made to follow on. They were dismissed for 382 in response to India’s massive 609/6 declared, which came on the back of Sachin Tendulkar’s 201* and Rahul Dravid’s 162. Flower (232) scored nearly half of Zimbabwe’s second-innings score (503) and led the game to a famous draw despite the follow-on.

142 vs England, 2001

In one of the rare occasions when a player of the losing team was awarded the Player of the Match, Flower scored 142 off 128 at Harare in the third ODI of a five-match series, which was more than half his team’s total of 261/10. England successfully chased with 4 wickets remaining, although Flower’s single-handed show is highly regarded even to this day.

81 vs New Zealand, 2001

In the third ODI of the five-match series, Zimbabwe was set a competitive target of 274 to win at Auckland by New Zealand. Chasing the target, the visitors were reeling at 64/5 inside 16 overs, although Flower (81 from 86) stitched match-saving partnerships with Dirk Viljoen (39) and Heath Streak (79) as his team clinched a famous one-wicket victory with 8 balls to spare.