New Zealand 393 for 6 beat West Indies 250 all out by 143 runs

On a day when Marlon Samuels dropped Martin Guptill in the very first over, the Wellington crowd, almost as in appreciation of the gesture by the West Indian, dropped Guptill time and again as he kept hitting many rows back towards them on his way to only the fifth double century in ODI history. Guptill’s knock propelled New Zealand into their seventh semi-final in World Cups. With his 237 not out, he registered the highest individual score in World Cup, going past the record set by Chris Gayle with his 215 against Zimbabwe just a few weeks earlier in the same competition. Gayle could not last long enough when he came out in pursuit of New Zealand’s score of 393 and West Indies eventually folded for 250 with nearly 20 overs remaining in their innings.

Brendon McCullum won the toss at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington and decided to bat after five consecutive games where New Zealand chased and won. West Indies captain Jason Holder gave the team a lift with a superb running catch to dismiss the dangerous McCullum for only 8 runs very early. Kane Williamson was set to make the one big score after a series of good starts but fell prey to a slower one from Andre Russel as he offered  a simple catch to cover when he was on 33.

Guptill then consolidated through the middle overs with Ross Taylor who was still struggling to regain his touch. The pair added 143 runs for the third wicket of which the main contributor was Guptill. At the 35 over mark, the game was in the balance with New Zealand at 187 for 2.  Guptill stepped up a gear during the batting powerplay and then never lost momentum as he helped the team bag 206 from the last 15 overs. He reached 100 in the 35th over and added another 137 runs to his kitty from just 52 balls thereafter.

New Zealand lost Taylor for 42 through a run-out which looked inevitable after a series of miscommunication in running between the wickets with Guptill and him. Though Corey Anderson who was promoted ahead of Grant Elliot did not look comfortable at the crease, Guptill was hitting boundaries at will. Guptill, who was dropped in the first over by Marlon Samuels made full use of the length balls given on a platter to him. He hit 24 fours and 11 sixes and targetted the V in-front of the wicket with a total of 176 of his runs coming through the arc between extra cover and midwicket.

The West Indies bowlers who had a grip on the proceedings till the slog overs showed once again that they lose their radar when a batsman goes after them. They bowled far too many good length deliveries for their own good at the end, and Guptill disdainfully slaughtered them for sixes. The same set of bowlers was at the wrong end of onslaught from AB deVilliers twice this year.

West Indies hopes were pinned on Chris Gayle and for a while it looked like he would do something special,  Gayle’s innings of 61 off 33 ball was a typical effort laden with sixes and many dot balls in between those huge hits. He hit eight sixes and while trying to go for another heave over the leg side was cleaned up by Adam Milne. Before Gayle’s dismissal, West Indies had lost four another wickets all to Trent Boult who bowled a brilliant spell of 4 for 44 when all other bowlers were going for more than 8-9 an over.  Boult also  became the highest wicket taker of the tournament with his 19 scalps so far.

Marlon Samuels, trying a hand at redemption,  was going after every ball and finally perished when Daniel Vettori pulled off a one-handed catch at third-man off Boult. He timed his jump correctly and took the ball behind him nonchalantly to register one of the best catches of the tournament. Vettori’s impressive World Cup showing just got better as he picked up two wickets as well to take his tally for the tournament to 15.

West Indies batsmen never bothered to reassess their strategy and kept going for their shots even when they were losing wickets regularly. They were ahead of the asking rate for almost the entire innings but were always going to fall short with their high-risk approach. Jason Holder once again showed how captaincy has brought the best out of the batsman in him with his 42. Holder was the last one to go as he holed out to long-off off Vettori’s bowling when West Indies needed 144 from 117 balls, a perfectly achievable target if they had wickets in hand.

Such was  West Indies’s single-mindedness to attack, by the time they finished their innings in the 31st over, they had hit 16 sixes compared to New Zealand’s 15 from 50 overs. The match also went into the record books as the one which has seen most sixes hit in World Cups, 31 in all.

New Zealand will play South Africa in the first of the semi-finals at Auckland and captain Brendon McCullum has promised more positive cricket from his side, which has brought them success so far. West Indies will be flying back home after a campaign in which they showed at no point the potency to challenge the best sides in the world.