Riding on Martin Guptill’s fantastic double hundred, New Zealand piled up close to 400 runs and made the West Indies victory chase out of reach. It is not every day that someone comes up with double centuries in 50-over matches but when that happens, the opponents are heavily pressurized. After the CWC opener against Sri Lanka, when Guptill made 49, he had a series of poor scores until the Kiwi opener rediscovered himself with the top score of 57 against Afghanistan and followed that with a scintillating century against Bangladesh. But the double century against West Indies was the most valuable since it literally drove the last nail in West Indies’ coffin. After winning the toss, Brendon McCullum decided to bat first and mount the pressure on West Indies and though the skipper himself lost his wicket early, successive batsmen played their role admirably in the company of Guptill. At the end of 50 overs, New Zealand were 393/6 with Guptill unbeaten on 237 scored off just 163 balls with 24 fours and 11 sixes. The chase of 394 was too monumental and though Chris Gayle did his best with a 33-ball 61 with 8 towering sixes, he didn’t find support from his colleagues. With wickets falling at regular intervals, it was only a matter of time before West Indies lost the steam and New Zealand sailed into the semifinals. To West Indies’ credit, they kept up the tempo of scoring and reached 250 before being bowled out in the 31st over and yielded a 143 run victory to New Zealand. Now in the cracker of a match at Auckland on March 24, the Kiwis will take on the Proteas. Both New Zealand and South Africa have looked favorites to win the tournament but one of them will have to yield the ground to the other on Tuesday.
McCullum won the toss and came out with Martin Guptill, who began with a boundary off the first ball he faced from Jerome Taylor. But off the third ball, Guptill was dropped by Marlon Samuels at square leg. At that time, West Indies didn’t know the implication of that dropped chance but they rued it as the game progressed. McCullum, however departed in the fifth over as he tried to hit over mid-off but the skier was brilliantly held by Jason Holder, who literally emulated the feat of Kapil Dev in the 1983 final against the West Indies, when the India skipper had taken the catch of Viv Richards. That was the turning point, which led to a historic victory for India. Kane Williamson joined Guptill and the two batsmen carried the score from 27/1 to 89/2 in the 15th over. New Zealand were cruising at about 6 runs per over and with Guptill unfazed after the early life, the Kiwis’ batting held promise. Ross Taylor and Guptill crafted a 143 run third-wicket stand but Taylor’s role was just passive in his 61-ball 42. It was Guptill, who had now acquired a menacing stance. He was in full blast with shots all-round the wicket. He had taken 64 balls to reach his fifty but he opened out afterwards. His next fifty came in 47 balls and Ross Taylor just enjoyed from the other end. Once Guptill crossed 100, he was unstoppable. Taking only 24 balls for his third fifty, Guptill hoisted the New Zealand run rate to over 7 per over. Though wickets kept falling at the other end, it didn’t bother Guptill. He was now a one-man army against the West Indies reaching the coveted 200-run mark in just 151 balls as New Zealand reached 357/5 in 48 overs. 36 more runs were taken in the last two overs and New Zealand ended with 393/6.
Coming out to chase 394 for an unlikely win, West Indies lost Johnson Charles in the second over to an express delivery from Trent Boult that uprooted his off stump. Boult also accounted for Lendl Simmons in the 6th over and Marlon Samuels & Denesh Ramdin in the 10th. But Chris Gayle was hammering the New Zealand bowlers at the other end as West Indies raced to 80/4 by 10th over. After hitting 8 sixes and 2 fours, Gayle departed for a 33-ball 61 in 17th over to leave West Indies tottering at 120/5. But Jonathan Carter and Darren Sammy batted courageously even in the face of a lost cause. Later, Andre Russell and Jason Holder also contributed with scores that could have caused trouble if the target was not so big. But despite a tough task, West Indies still scored 250 in just over 30 overs. But they lost the battle against a mountain. By their 143 run victory in the end, New Zealand sailed into the semifinals. Like India, New Zealand have also won all their matches in CWC 2015 and bowled out every side they faced. They have an acid test at Auckland on March 24, when they meet South Africa in the first semifinal.
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