Brathwaite agony as Windies fall just short vs pace-setting Kiwis

Monday, 24 June 2019 00:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Carlos Brathwaite looks dejected after losing his wicket and the match Action Images via Reuters

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters): New Zealand moved to the brink of the World Cup semi-finals with a thrilling five-run victory over West Indies on Saturday after Carlos Brathwaite’s magnificent century almost produced a highly unlikely comeback win for the Caribbean side.

Needing six to win off seven balls at Old Trafford, Brathwaite attempted to grab glory with one shot but his heave over mid-on was caught by Trent Boult just inside the boundary rope, to the delight of the Kiwis and the despair of Jason Holder’s team.

Chasing 292, after skipper Kane Williamson’s fine 148 for New Zealand, West Indies were well poised at 130 for two after 20 overs but collapsed following the loss of Shimron Hetmyer (54) and Chris Gayle, who made a chancy 87 including six sixes.

With Holder, Ashley Nurse and Evin Lewis, hampered by a muscle injury, managing just one run between them, it was a familiar tale of fragility from the West Indies middle order.

A 47-run partnership between Brathwaite and Kemar Roach offered consolidation and a little hope before the latter was snaffled up by Tom Latham off Matt Henry.

Sheldon Cottrell then provided some support to Brathwaite, his 15 contributing to a 34-run stand that kept his side in the game before he was bowled by Lockie Ferguson.

With Oshane Thomas a true number 11, only the wildest optimist among the Caribbean supporters could have imagined what was to come – but 25 runs came in the 47th over, with Brathwaite blasting Henry for three consecutive sixes followed by a four.

The power and confidence of Brathwaite’s hitting brought back memories of his sensational match-winning performance in the 2016 World Twenty20 final, when he hit four sixes in a row off England’s Ben Stokes.

Extraordinarily, he had only scored one half-century in his previous 37 ODIs before Saturday.

At Old Trafford, though, he scored every run of the 41-run, 24-ball last-wicket partnership with Thomas.

But on the final ball of the penultimate over, Brathwaite went for the big hit, only for his effort off Jimmy Neesham to find Boult’s hands.

As the New Zealanders celebrated, the West Indies batsman collapsed to his knees.


Likely elimination

The win moved unbeaten New Zealand to the top of the table with 11 points and left West Indies staring at likely elimination, stranded in seventh place with three points.