ICC Cricket World Cup, Old Trafford
New Zealand 291-8: Williamson 148, Taylor 69; Cottrell 4-56
West Indies 286 all out: Brathwaite 101, Gayle 87; Boult 4-30
New Zealand win by five runs
Kane Williamson could be described as the being the gift that keeps on giving after he notched his second century in succession to help New Zealand edge closer to the semi-finals of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup as they defeated the West Indies by five runs at Old Trafford.
The North-islander backed up his unbeaten 106 against South Africa on Wednesday rather nicely, driving, pulling and cutting with gusto as he made a career-best 148 – a knock which included 14 fours and a six. This was his fourth century in England and Wales, meaning that he now has as many centuries in the UK as he does in his homeland.
Having lost both openers in the opening over, New Zealand knew that they needed two of their most established figures to knuckle down and take it to the West Indian bowlers. Williamson and Ross Taylor, who have over 13,000 runs between them in One-Day International cricket, settled and batted nicely together. They put on over 100 together for the 14th time in ODI cricket and for the second time in this tournament.
The pair batted fluently and they rotated the strike well as the West Indian bowlers toiled in the Manchester sunshine. They shared a stand worth 167 which was broken in the 35th over by Chris Gayle as Taylor lazily chipped the spinner to Jason Holder at mid-off to depart for 69 to end an innings that lasted 95 balls.
At just under five runs per over, New Zealand were meandering along at a steady pace, but were needing to step their foot on the gas to try and set an imposing target of over 300.
Williamson went for 148, gifting Sheldon Cottrell his fourth and final wicket. There were also contributions from Tom Latham (12), Jimmy Neesham (28), Colin de Grandhomme (16) and Mitchell Santer (10) as New Zealand posted 291 for eight in their 50 overs.
Requiring 292 runs for victory at less than one run per ball, the West Indies were in no rush and were able to take their time. Although, if you have Gayle in your side, you know that it’s either go hard or go home.
The 39-year-old who is playing in his fifth and final World Cup, struck eight fours and six sixes in his knock of 87 to set the platform for his side to push on and try to clinch the victory.
Enter Carlos Brathwaite. English fans will know his capabilities after his heroics in the 2016 ICC World T20 final and he was even more devastating, scoring a blistering hundred to bring his side to the brink of victory. He smashed nine fours and five of the biggest sixes before holing out to Trent Boult in the deep as his side fell short of the target.
Boult was the standout bowler for the Blackcaps as he claimed figures of four for 30 – picking up four wickets for the third time in his World Cup career.
The New Zealand juggernaut continues, having gone top of the group table and they will look to secure their semi-final spot when they meet Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Feature image: PA