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Kiwis hand Windies a drubbing
Prem Panicker | March 29, 2007 23:33 IST
Last Updated: March 30, 2007 02:31 IST
New Zealand scored a thumping seven-wicket victory over the West Indies in their opening match of the Super Eights at the World Cup, in St John's, Antigua, on Thursday.
After dismissing the West Indies for 177 in 44.4 overs, New Zealand scored the required runs in 39.2.
Scott Styris top-scored for the Kiwis with an unbeaten 80, after Jacob Oram (3 for 23), Shane Bond (3 for 31) and Daniel Vettori (3 for 39) restricted the hosts with some fine bowling.
For the West Indies, it was their second successive loss in the second stage of the tournament after being beaten by Australia in their opening match.
West Indies innings
There's a little cat and mouse game developing at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua - and through the first quarter of the game, New Zealand and the West Indies have taken turns playing cat.
Stephen Fleming won the toss and inserted, banking on early morning swing and seam and, who knows, maybe even on the fact that the West Indies batsmen might be a bit mind-weary after the drubbing at the hands of Australia the day before.
And for the first 11 overs, his lead pace bowlers Michael Mason and Shane Bond justified the insertion: the former had a first spell that read 6-2-14-0 and Bond, 5-0-13-1.
In helpful conditions, Mason kept bending the ball in to the batsman; Bond, at the other end, swung and seamed them away at great pace. Chris Gayle and Shivnaraine Chanderpaul repeatedly scrambled to defend the Mason in-cutters; against Bond, both batsmen were not good enough to touch through.
Instinctively, both batsmen were staying well inside the crease to Bond, giving themselves that fractional extra time to sight the ball; the measure of self-preservation actually helped, because from that position, neither got forward quickly enough for the ball to find the edge - until the 8th over, that is.
The fifth ball of that over started somewhere around leg and middle stump, swung in and landed on off on length, and darted away. The fuller length forced Chanderpaul forward, the pace and late swing found the edge and Scott Styris at second slip had an easy take (4/28; 14/1).
Brian Lara had indicated that the West Indies game plan revolved around keeping the Kiwi opening bowlers at bay - and the way Gayle was playing, it seemed his only intent was survival. By the ninth over, however, he figured he was seeing the ball well enough to pull Mason, twice, short-arming the bowler on either side of midwicket.
Having got the blood flowing freely, Gayle then climbed into Franklin in the 14th over. A full length delivery was lofted over mid off; a length ball outside off was smashed through extra cover with stunning force and timing; the third delivery in the sequence, a touch back of length, saw the batsman wait, let it come on, then force square through point with effortless ease.
When Gayle put a foot forward, then leant back and thumped Franklin to the straight fence in his next over and Sarwan, later in the same over, used timing and touch to drive the bowler back down the track, the mouse appeared, finally, to have turned into cat.
Some of the big teams make a habit, almost, of producing moments of brilliance just when the game seems to be slipping away. Here, it was Brendan McCullum's turn. In the 17th over, Oram bowled one down the channel that ducked in off the seam; Sarwan's drive was outside the line. McCullum was moving to his right when the ball took the inside edge; he checked, dived the other way and brought off a blinder (19/27; 66/2; partnership 52 runs at 6.11).
It was a key wicket: the two batsmen were looking well set, finding the boundaries and rotating strike quite rapidly to score at a pace that almost negated the lack of runs in the first ten overs. It was also one of cricket's little jokes at its players: the Windies had come out intent on keeping Bond and Mason at bay; once they were gone, so was the danger, they assumed, and paid.
Samuels came out and stroked Oram fluidly through the covers, an early hint that he was in touch and seeing the ball well. And then, he fell, an over later, to the same bowler: Oram banged one down on a short length and made it kick; a surprised Samuels tried to get his bat out of the way, but the ball brushed the glove and went through to McCullum. Samuels tried for an Oscar, pulling his bottom hand away in marked fashion, but umpire Rudi Koertzen wasn't fooled (9/18; 78/3)
Brian Lara had barely taken his guard, when Oram struck an even bigger blow, again with the short ball. Going round the wicket, the bowler banged one down in the channel, close to off; Gayle rocked back looking to force square, but the ball was too close to the body for the shot and all Gayle managed was to chop it into the ground, and onto the stumps (44/56; 81/4).
The three successive Oram strikes had turned the game around. The West Indies was seemingly set at the 15-over mark, with the early threat seen off and the pitch and conditions settling down. Wickets in the 17th, 21st and 23rd overs have torpedoed the team and, at the halfway mark, has forced Lara into a defensive role while his opposite number, Fleming, can now continue attacking. There is batting to come, still: Bravo is out there, with Smith, Ramdhin, and Lendl Simmons, in for Jerome Taylor, to follow - but for now, the Kiwis hold all the aces.
In passing, the Kiwis are already missing Lou Vincent. Thrice in the space of two overs, Lara and Bravo sneaked singles to the point region, and got away with them because of the lack of direct hits; Vincent had, before injury put him out, done enough to indicate that such singles to him could be suicidal.
5 overs: 7/0 @ 1.40 (Chanderpaul 4/20; Gayle 1/10)
10 overs: 27/1 @ 2.70 (Gayle 17/27; Sarwan 3/5)
15 overs: 53/1 @ 3.53 (Gayle 34/41; Sarwan 11/21)
20 overs: 78/2 @ 3.90 (Gayle 42/50; Samuels 9/15)
25 overs: 89/4 @ 3.56 (Lara 4/11; Bravo 5/10)
Overs 26 - 44.4
`There's a run out chance here, mates,' Brendan McCullum yelled, from behind the stumps.
He was right enough - there were a half dozen chances between the 24th and 30th overs alone, but none of those translated into wickets because the fielders kept missing the stumps.
And yet, New Zealand took a death grip on the game in five critical overs, between the 34th and 38th. Fleming, needing wickets, brought back his main man and with his very first delivery, Bond struck. The ball swerved in the air, landed back of length outside off, and kicked. The pace and movement caused a startled Bravo to jump back in his crease, bat out in reflexive defense. The ball took the edge, and McCullum has the easiest of takes (18/30; 128/5).
The wicket ended a 47-run partnership, at 4.33 rpo, that was looking to rebuild the West Indies platform.
At the other end, Brian Lara was batting with uncharacteristic restraint, looking to score almost entirely in singles; his first 20 runs included 17 singles. It was only off the 33rd delivery he faced that the Windies skipper felt expansive enough to go back, and late cut Vettori for his first four.
Inexplicably, from that point on Lara began to bat on the edge. A slash at Styris ballooned just over the head of point; a slashing cut at the same bowler saw the ball go perilously close to off. Also, for a batsman who is fluid in the V, Lara looked to score almost exclusively in the arc between third man and point, mostly with the open bat face.
That combination caused his downfall in the 37th over. To a Styris delivery full and close to off, Lara slashed; this time, he got the edge and McCullum brought off a brilliant reflexive catch (37/49; 128/5).
Ramdhin had played two fierce pulls at Bond, but the wicket of his captain pushed him back into a shell; Styris and Vettori added to the pressure with back to back maidens in the 39th and 40th overs, to have the West Indies 152/6 as the innings swung into the slog.
Lendl Simmons, playing his first game, seemed unable to get the ball off the square; Ramdhin looked to do the hitting for both of them and in attempting to force the pace, perished. Vettori slowed a ball right down and tossed it right up, giving it a lot of loop. Ramdhin backed away, set himself, and looked to blast through point. The additional bounce, and the slowness of the wicket, combined to defeat the shot; all Ramdhin could do was pat it straight to point (15/22; 158/7).
Dwayne Smith came out and swung the second ball he faced, from Vettori, high over midwicket for six; at the other end, Simmons finally came out of his shell and crunched Styris square on the off, then swung him off his knee to the long leg boundary.
Vettori, whose lack of wickets was a big talking point ahead of this World Cup, then struck with bowling of the highest class. Having sussed out that Smith fancied the midwicket region, Vettori floated a teaser nice and slow through the air, on a very full length. Smith went down on one knee and aimed a ferocious slog-sweep at the ball; he was almost through with the shot when the ball gently landed, went through him and onto the middle stump (8/6; 176/8).
With his very next ball, Vettori struck again - this time with a ball quicker and fuller, with just enough turn to beat the tentative push by Powell and trap him in front (0/1; 176/9).
Corey Colleymore survived the hat-trick ball, but the relief was merely temporary. At the other end, Bond took over from Styris, who had completed a great spell, took two deliveries to line Colleymore up, then went through his defenses with a screaming yorker (0/5; 177 all out). Simmons was stranded on 14/26; his inexperience at this level was underlined when he took a single to the first ball of the Bond over, exposing Colleymore to New Zealand's best bowler.
The West Indies ended with a good 80 runs at least below par. Worse, it was bowled out inside the distance for the second successive day, a factor that will really impact on the run rate.
The Kiwis hardly put a foot wrong throughout the match, if you discount the number of throws that missed the stumps. The bowlers were spot on; Fleming was brilliant with his field placements and bowling changes, and McCullum had an outstanding day behind the stumps.
At the halfway stage, this is really New Zealand's game to lose; the West Indies gratuitously shot themselves in the foot by dropping a bowler to beef up the batting by including Lendl Simmons, and now with a low total to defend, doesn't have the ammunition to hunt the Kiwis.
30 overs: 114/4 @ 3.80 (Lara 18/27; Bravo 16/24)
35 overs: 139/5 @ 3.97 (Lara 33/43; Ramdhin 6/8)
40 overs: 152/6 @ 3.80 (Ramdin 14/19; Simmons 1/13)
New Zealand innings
The opening was dramatic, the events that followed inexplicable.
Powell produced an absolute jaffa to knock out Peter Fulton's middle stump, with the second ball of the New Zealand innings. The ball pitched on length, seamed late at speed, cut through the batsman's attempted flick to leg and crashed into the stumps (0/2; 0/1)
Powell bowled his early overs in a dream, beating Hamish Marshall and Stephen Fleming for fun, and doing everything but take the edge.
You would think he could have used an experienced bowler at the other end, but for some reason, Lara opted to use his part-timer, Dwayne Smith, as opening bowler while holding Corey Colleymore in reserve.
The only logical explanation is that having gone in a bowler short, Lara decided to hold Colleymore back, so he could take over when Powell was done.
Powell struck again in the ninth over, this time with a ball just short of length, that seemed like a slower delivery. Marshall was foxed into driving early, and managed only to chip to Lara at cover (15/23; 36/2).
Fleming started uncertainly, but then got the range and power of his shots. He seemed to have done his math - all he, and the remaining Kiwi batsmen, had to do was stay out there; the hittable balls would come. So Fleming sat doggedly on the splice, nudging a single when he could, and hitting only when width offered. When it did, he was as crisp as you like, blazing the ball in the arc between point and wide mid off with considerable flair.
The cloud cover was intense, the ball was seaming about, and Scott Styris at the opposite end struggled to work the ball off the square. Lara, however, opted not to use his power play, though the batsmen weren't in attacking mode. The move was surprising - if he couldn't use it early, and attack to take wickets, he certainly didn't have enough runs in the tank to opt for the power plays later, once the ball had softened and the swing and seam tapered off.
Fleming settled down to bat the West Indies out of it. His defense was tight, his picking of gaps to knock the ball into for singles thoughtful, and just every now and again, he uncorked the big hit to show the bowlers who was boss - the best of them a clean-struck pull off Colleymore that ignored the man at deep midwicket and sent the ball soaring over his head.
Styris wasn't anywhere near his best, but in a small chase, he really didn't need to be. He held one end up, took the occasional single, and watched while his captain did the heavy lifting.
The rain began to come down around the 20 over mark, but even that was no worry for the Kiwis; as per Duckworth-Lewis, they needed to have 58 on the board if they had lost two wickets, at the 20 over mark, and the batting side topped that target quite comfortably.
Just when it looked like the Kiwis were set to coast, Lara produced a moment of brilliance to get his team back into it. Styris pushed Bravo onto the on side, and took off for the single. Lara raced around, picked up and threw the stumps down in one fluid move, catching Fleming a good three, four feet out of his ground (45/66; 77/3).
At the halfway point, the Kiwis needed another 91 runs, with seven wickets in hand, at a comfortable 3.66 rpo, and should be favorites to take it home.
5 overs: 16/1 @ 3.2 (Fleming 6/12; Marshall 9/16)
10 overs: 37/2 @ 3.70 (Fleming 20/32; Styris 0/4)
15 overs: 50/2 @ 3.33 (Fleming 30/50; Styris 1/17)
20 overs: 75/2 @ 3.75 (Fleming 44/65; Styris 12/32)
25 overs: 87/3 @ 3.48 (Styris 22/47; McMillan 1/14)
Overs 26 - 39.2
When Fleming walked off after being run out, he gave Styris an eloquent look. The message apparently got across; the batsman changed gears, and began looking for runs more proactively from that point on.
At the other end was McMillan, who at one point was on an uncharacteristic 1 off 12 balls. All that changed in the 26th over: after Styris had begun the charge with a four off Smith, coming back into the attack in place of Colleymore, McMillan finished off the over by muscling him for two more boundaries, through extra cover and long leg.
From then on, the two batsmen went into cruise mode while the rain played hide and seek. The shadow of Duckworth Lewis kept Styris and McMillan from taking too many risks, but within those limitations, both worked singles busily, and crashed boundaries whenever the opportunity afforded.
As the Kiwis eased towards the target, with the fourth wicket stand bringing up its 50 off just 58 balls, West Indies shoulders drooped; the field spread, runs were available for the taking, and it increasingly became a romp.
Around this time, the unwisdom of picking an extra batsman in Simmons, at the expense of a bowler (Jerome Taylor was the one to sit out) was rubbed in. The part-timers didn't have the pace to hustle the batsmen, and Lara had no one to turn to outside of Powell, who had already bowled out 8 overs by the 30-over mark, and Colleymore, who too had finished eight of his overs.
Gayle's part time spin was the only wild card available, but the Kiwis kept milking him with pushes into the gaps, and that potential threat was stymied too.
With the score on 130/3, the shower became sufficiently pronounced to force the players off the field. The Kiwis were well ahead of the game: they needed to be on 93, if no further play was possible, they were a good 37 runs ahead of the game.
Bringing Powell back as soon as play resumed was one last throw of the dice from Lara; Styris (who brought up his third 50 of the tournament, this one a patient effort of 72 balls) crashed a four to the straight field, McMillan bustled and blustered, eight came in the over and that was pretty much that.
With the target well in sight, Styris changed up through the gears, crashing Colleymore through wide mid on, then straight, then through midwicket. McMillan finished the job off, in the 40th over, with a clean loft over long on, to seal the win by 7 wickets, with a little over 10 overs still in hand.
Clearly, the West Indies were a good 80 or more short of where they needed to be; equally clearly, the New Zealanders through this competition have honed themselves into a high quality, all-round side poised to mount a very serious challenge for the trophy.
30 overs: 122/3 @ 4.06 (Styris 40/60; McMillan 18/31)
35 overs: 142/3 @ 4.05 (Styris 51/73; McMillan 26/48)
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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