NZ Limp to Small Target

In a match in which both sides seemed decidedly out of sorts, New Zealand came out on top by three wickets chasing the small target of 201. After a display by the top-order that managed the difficult task of being worse than that of the West Indies earlier in the day, and much worse at that, it was left to Peter Fulton, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori to guide New Zealand through to the total, eventually quite comfortably with eight overs to spare.

The first ten overs of the West Indies innings, after being put in to bat, were quite difficult to believe. After 10.1 overs, the score was 10-2, with Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga both back in the pavilion after being out bowled by Shane Bond and caught behind off Michael Mason for 0 and 7 respectively. Less than half an hour later it was 60-4, with what threatened to be a recovery by Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul being put to an end by Mason and James Franklin. Bond’s opening spell was magnificent, at one point bowling 28 consecutive dot balls.

Runako Morton came in at the fall of Gayle’s wicket and played a crucial innings. In just under two and a half hours at the crease, he scored a patient 39, playing cautiously through the difficult early period and was starting to lift the scoring rate when he was out to the tight bowling of Daniel Vettori, caught by Nathan Astle.

An even more crucial innings though was that of Wavell Hinds. Hinds almost singlehandedly took the West Indies from a position of 150 being a good score to the 200-9 they finished with. In his 100th ODI, he scored 76 from 88 deliveries with six fours and a six. His partner for an entertaining four overs was Dwayne Smith, who hit two big sixes in his 19 before being run out. They were particularly harsh on Scott Styris, who looked the odd one out in the bowling scorecard, conceding almost twice as many runs as the second most expensive bowler in his spell of 0-51 from just six overs. Thanks largely to these two, 69 runs were scored from the last ten overs and the once almost impossible score of 200 was achieved on the last ball, although the ninth wicket fell at the same time when the batsmen attempted to run a second and Fidel Edwards was caught short of his ground.

200 didn’t seem quite enough considering how well the New Zealanders played in Wellington, but it quickly became a very defendable score as Jamie How, Lou Vincent, Nathan Astle and Stephen Fleming all departed in the first four overs. The pace of Edwards and the accuracy of Ian Bradshaw proved a lethal opening partnership. Edwards picked up both members of the big opening partnership in Wellington, How and Astle, while Bradshaw hit Vincent’s off stump with a superb delivery and also trapped Fleming lbw. At 13-4 the target was looking a long way away.

That became 49-5 not long afterwards when Jerome Taylor, soon after being introduced to the attack, caught the edge of the bat of Styris. But Taylor’s popularity with West Indies supporters dropped subsequently, when he was taken for 22 in an over by new arrival to the crease McCullum.

He and Fulton put on 71 for the sixth wicket at a good rate before the introduction of supersub Rawl Lewis brought an end to Fulton’s 49, Fulton attempting to cut a ball outside the off stump and catching a faint edge through to Denesh Ramdin.

McCullum was playing aggressively and hit a big six and several fours before his innings was cut short by a slightly dubious call by Daniel Vettori for 45, a call that left pressure on Vettori to guide the team through to victory, which at the fall of McCullum was still 60 runs away. But Vettori did that job perfectly, scoring a 56-ball 53, his second ODI fifty, with just three fours, a perfect innings for the situation. The run rate required was never difficult, but the regular loss of wickets just had to be stopped, and Vettori’s regular singles with the fielders placed well out was exactly what was required, and he finished the match in style, hitting a boundary on 49 to bring up his half-century and the victory for New Zealand.

He was well supported by Franklin, who is starting to show his all-round abilities at the international level at last. Franklin’s 15 in a 63-run partnership included a big six which brought some long overdue entertainment to the crowd, this coming after his huge six in the Twenty20 at Eden Park last week.

The win was far from convincing, and left some suggesting that New Zealand were being a bit complacent with their rotation policy and attitude to the West Indian bowling attack while batting. West Indies will also be disappointed, because although they are considered underdogs in this series they were at times well and truly on top of this match, and perhaps when McCullum, who was going so well, was run out with the score at 141-7, they should have closed out the match from there. The loss continues their depressing streak of consecutive losses, now standing at 14.

West Indies 200-9
Wavell Hinds 76, Runako Morton 39
Shane Bond 2-23, Michael Mason 2-32

New Zealand won by 3 wickets

New Zealand 204-7
Daniel Vettori 53 not out, Peter Fulton 49
Ian Bradshaw 2-31, Fidel Edwards 2-41

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Daniel Vettori – 1-28, 53 not out.

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