Birthday special: Stephen Fleming – Five most memorable knocks by Kiwi legend

You think about the top teams in world cricket at the moment and New Zealand will be right up there with the best. The Kiwis have thrived under the leadership of Kane Williamson and won their maiden World Title when they beat India in the summit clash of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC). One of the most influential figures in NZ cricket is none other than Stephen Fleming.

Fleming was the first Kiwi batsman to touch the 7000-run mark in Tests and is the second-highest run-scorer for New Zealand in ODIs and plundered 8007 runs in 279 ODI matches. As Fleming celebrates his 49th birthday today, let us take a look at some of his best knocks in international cricket.

5 – 90 vs India (1994, Napier)

India were not great travellers, and no one expected them to beat New Zealand in New Zealand. But in the 1st ODI, they got the hosts under the pump after Javagal Srinath rattled the Kiwi top order. The Black Caps were reeling at 60-3 when Stephen Fleming, playing his 1st ODI, came out to wield his willow. After a cautious start, Fleming decimated the Indian bowlers and stroked a magnificent 90. He stitched a brilliant 144 run stand with Shane Thompson (83) for the 5th wicket to bail the Kiwis out of trouble. India needed 241 to win but a disciplined bowling effort by the hosts meant that the Indian side could only manage to score 212-9 in their 50 overs.

4 – 92* vs Pakistan (Lahore, 1996)

Led by a 4-wicket haul by Waqar Younis, Pakistan managed to bowl out New Zealand for 155 in the 1st inning of the 1st Test at Lahore. However, an inspired spell by Simon Doull helped New Zealand claw back into the match and bundle out Pakistan for 191. In the second inning, New Zealand were struggling at 101-5 but a solid 92 by Stephen Fleming along with a brilliant half-century by Chris Cairns helped New Zealand post 311 in their second inning. The Pakistan side was bowled out for just 231 and lost the match by 44 runs.

3 – 106 vs West Indies (1996, Port of Spain)

West Indies were a formidable side back in the 90s and beating them in their own den was a stiff task. In the 2nd ODI, New Zealand won the toss and put West Indies in to bat. Even though the visitors bowled well, half-centuries from Jimmy Adams and Roland Holder took West Indies to a decent 238/7. West Indies had Curtley Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Courtney Walsh in their ranks and the pace trio rattled the Kiwi top order, reducing them to 71-4. However, Stephen Fleming (106*) looked in complete control and stitched two crucial partnerships with Chris Crains and Chris Harris to hand New Zealand an impressive victory.

2 – 134* vs South Africa (2003, Johannesburg)

Playing at home, South Africa were one of the contenders to lift the 2003 ICC World Cup. Batting first, on the back of a magnificent hundred by Herschelle Gibbs, South Africa posted a strong 306 in their alloted 50 overs. Anything over 300 was considered very difficult in those days and against a bowling attack that had Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Allan Donald, it looked even more daunting. However, unperturbed by the lethal attack, Fleming stroked a magnificent 134* to take New Zealand to a 9-wicket victory. The match was reduced to 39 overs due to rain and New Zealand breached the target of 226.

1 – 274* vs Sri Lanka (2003, Colombo)

Not a lot was expected from New Zealand on a turning Colombo wicket. However, against all odds, Stephen Fleming stood tall and stroked a magnificent 274 in the first inning to help the Kiwis post a mammoth 515 – 7. In the second inning, he again scored an impressive half-century as New Zealand managed to draw the match.