West Indies had ruined their great start given by Chris Gayle and his partnership with Shimron Hetmyer in their chase of 292 against New Zealand in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash at OId Trafford on Saturday. However, Carlos Brathwaite fought till the very end. Sharing partnerships with Kemar Roach and Sheldon Cottrell, Brathwaite was the one-man army for the West Indies. With only one wicket remaining and with West Indies needing 33 off 18 balls, desperate times called for desperate measures. Brathwaite proceeded to change the course of the match by blasting three sixes and a four in the 48th over bowled by Matt Henry as the Windies needed eight off 12 balls. In the 49th over bowled by Jimmy Neesham, Brathwaite played out three dot balls and notched up his maiden ton as six were needed off seven balls.
The assault on Henry conjured memories of the ‘Remember the Name’ assault in the World T20 final in Kolkata against England in 2016 when he blasted four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to help West Indies win the title. Here, he was on the cusp of something extraordinary. West Indies were one hit away from registering their first win against New Zealand in World Cups since 1999. However, cricket is a game of fine margins. Brathwaite decided to go for glory in the next ball as he clobbered a six to widish long on. That was the longer part of the boundary in Old Trafford. Trent Boult, known to take some outstanding catches, held his nerve and took the catch inches away from the rope. The umpires were checking for a no-ball but Neesham was safe. New Zealand had pulled off the ultimate humdinger, on a day when India needed a hat-trick from Mohammed Shami to ensure India would avoid embarrassment against Afghanistan in Southampton. Brathwaite was on his honches and was visibky upset. The New Zealand team came up and consoled Brathwaite for the effort.
Brathwaite’s assault and the sensible partnerships he stitched with the tail is a lesson to the Windies middle order, who collapsed sensationally after a good start from Chris Gayle. Chasing 292, Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran departed cheaply to Boult. Gayle launched an assault on Matt Henry and he was given great support from Shimron Hetmyer.
Gayle clobbered Lockie Ferguson for two boundaries while Hetmyer blasted three fours in one Neesham over. The self-proclaimed Universe Boss reached fifty and was lucky to have been dropped twice in the 18th over bowled by Mitchell Santner, with Henry and Colin Munro the guilty fielders. Gayle duly made Santner pay by hammering him for two sixes. Hetmyer got to his fifty with a six off Ferguson as West Indies made rapid progress.
The 23rd over bowled by Ferguson changed the course of the game. The right-armer got rid of Hetmyer and Jason Holder in quick succession but Colin de Grandhomme struck a major blow when he had Gayle dismissed for 87. When Boult got rid of Ashley Nurse and the injured Evin Lewis, West Indies had lost five wickets for 22 runs. The middle order collapse, thanks mainly to Boult’s 4/30 and Ferguson’s three wickets, put West Indies out of the contest and gave Brathwaite too much to do. However, he almost pulled it off but in the end, New Zealand’s 291 was just about enough and they owe a massive thanks to the brilliance of their skipper Kane Williamson, who continued his rich vein of form.
West Indies inserted New Zealand in and Sheldon Cottrell gave the Caribbean side a brilliant start by dismissing Martin Guptill and Colin Munro for ducks. In stepped Williamson and he had the experience of Ross Taylor as the duo rebuilt for New Zealand.
Both Taylor and Williamson found the boundary and rotated the strike calmly as they stitched a fifty-run partnership. In the 24th over bowled by Kemar Roach, both batsmen reached fifty. The partnership crossed 100 but Gayle broke the stand when he had Taylor out for 69. Williamson, who had scored hi first ton in the game against South Africa, doubled his tally with a pull to fine leg off Roach as he notched up his 13th century.
Williamson raised the tempo and attacked Cottrell by smashing a four and a six as he went past his highest individual score. Although he missed his 150, de Grandhomme and Neesham struck some lusty blows while Santner got New Zealand past 290 with a six in the final over bowled by Brathwaite. In a game of fine margins, the blow struck by Santner towards the end made a massive difference as New Zealand closed in on sealing a spot in the semi-final as they stayed unbeaten.