On this day in 2000: Underdogs New Zealand win a nail-biting World Cup final

The first year of the new century witnessed hosts New Zealand join England and Australia as winners of the Women’s World cup as they triumphed in arguably the most thrilling World Cup final ever. Australia were termed the favourites, having dominated the group stage after winning all of their matches during the league stage, and leading their players to rule the charts of wickets and runs in the tournament. The semi-finals eventually turned out to be quite one-sided affairs – New Zealand thrashing India by nine wickets, and Australia defeated South Africa by the same margin.

The finale

However, the final of the 2000 Women’s World Cup between hosts New Zealand and Australia was billed as one of women’s cricket’s greatest games. At the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, the main ground at Lincoln University on the outskirts of Christchurch, Kiwi skipper Emily Drumm chose to bat first. Though, the move did not pay off as the Kiwis could only manage 184. Kathryn Ramel scored the most runs for New Zealand, accruing 41 from 63, while Terry McGregor and Cathryn Fitzpatrick bowled extremely well for the Aussies.

Contributions with the bat came from Rebecca Rolls (34), Debbie Hockley (24), and Kathryn Ramel (41), although the opponent bowlers never allowed the New Zealanders to get their momentum going. Given Australia’s magnificent form in the entire tournament and a meagre total to chase for the win, the hopes that they would end up as champions were only increased. However, quite an opposite story unfolded during the chase after an inspirational effort from the hosts with the ball.

The chaotic chase

New Zealand needed early wickets to dent Australia’s chances, and they did achieve it through a double breakthrough after Lisa Keightley and Karen Rolton were out with just six runs on the board. Katrina Keenan, Clare Nicholson, and Rachel Pullar took two wickets apiece for New Zealand. The Aussies were kept in the run chase solely by skipper Belinda Clark. As the New Zealand bowlers continuously bagged wickets at the other end, Clark stood out for her team, accumulating 91 from just 102 balls before falling as the seventh wicket.

The match entered the final over, with Australia needing five runs and New Zealand needing only one wicket. Spinner Clare Nicholson was asked to bowl it by the skipper Emily Drumm. Nicholson then dismissed Charmaine Mason, getting her caught by the wicketkeeper Rebecca Rolls to spark joyous scenes for the home side. The defending champions were all out for 180 off the first ball of the 50th over, and the underdogs New Zealand had come from behind to win the most important title in their cricketing history.