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Friday, March 30, 2007

New Zealand's confidence boosted by easy win over brittle West Indies

Playing for the third day running (because of the spillover of the Australian match to the reserve day) West Indies failed to rally against New Zealand, making only 177 all out in 44.4 overs (Chris Gayle 44/56b, Brian Lara 37/49b, Shane Bond 3/31 /8.4 overs, Jacob Oram 3/23 /8 overs and Daniel Vettori 3/39/9 overs). NZ lost Peter Fulton to the second ball of their innings, but thereafter it was plain sailing against an attack for whom Dwayne Smith, who played but didn't bowl against Australia, opened the bowling. Steve Styris 80/90b and Stephen Fleming 46/66b did most of the damage as the Black Caps cantered to victory by 7 wickets with 64 balls to spare.

I didn't watch or listen to any of the game so I can't comment in much detail, but will refer you to two articles by Andrew Miller in Cricinfo, the first "Selection rift breaks up West Indian party", the second "Bizarre selections and Bond's cutting-edge spell".

Each complements the other and both are worth reading right through. Here's an extract from the first:

The defeat in itself was not insurmountable, but the manner of the meltdown was distressing. It was a sickly surrender in front of another paltry crowd, in a game that will be remembered more for some extraordinary team selections than for the subsequent lethargy of the West Indian performance. By the time Ramnaresh Sarwan's legbreaks had been called upon to bowl the 39th and penultimate over of the innings, the post-construction moonscape on which this stadium has been plonked reflected the bleakness of the host team's prospects.


If half of what Miller says is true, West Indies are riven by internal disaffection and, after their promising start, look to have little chance of making the semi-finals. New Zealand did well but, bearing in mind Miller's comments, may not have been fully tested in this game. This isn't meant to be a put down, as I believe that on the evidence of the tournament so far they're playing like semi-finalists. Before the 2003 World Cup I tipped them as dark horses, but they let me down badly then, so for the moment I'll hold my peace.
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