West Indies have got themselves under tremendous pressure as they have lost their second game of the Super Eights at Antigua. A weak batting display aided the Black Caps to clinch a comfortable victory. Scott Styris scored his third half century of the tournament to lead the New Zealand’s chase of a moderate target. Brian Lara’s team was out there for the third consecutive day in the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in North Sound and all the three days starting with the Hayden onslaught to today’s match proved to be disastrous. Once again West Indies lacked the home advantage with the crowd turn out being poor yet again!
Stephen Fleming won the toss this morning to put the Windies face the music of Shane Bond. There was the swing in the air and Bond was impressive, so was his partner Michael Mason. Windies were off to an extremely dull start and they had lost Chanderpaul, who was playing a typical scratchy innings that took his side nowhere. It was 14 for 1 after 7.5 overs for the homeside at the fall of Chanderpaul. Things started to fall in place when Ramnaresh Sarwan joined Chris Gayle as the two batsmen got some momentum going. But a brilliant catch behind the stumps off an inside edge by Brendon McCullum ended Sarwan’s (19) stay and got Jacob Oram, the bowler on a new high. The tall Jacob Oram kept on bowling a nagging line by hitting the deck to get uneven bounce. He got two more quick wickets that of Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle (44 from 56 with 8 fours) and Windies were in a real spot of bother at 81 for 4.
The experience of Brian Lara came to the fold as he got his junior, Dwayne Bravo to stick around to build up a busy partnership. The reintroduction of Shane Bond was a mastermind move from Fleming as the pacer forced Bravo to nick one behind. All the hard work done by the fifth wicket pair ended in the 34th over with the score at 128. Bravo contributed 18 out of the 47-run partnership. The biggest blow of the match came when Brian Lara was caught behind as well but off the bowling of Scott Styris. Lara was the second highest scorer with 37 from 49 with just the one boundary. His dismissal came too early, just in the 37th over. The Kiwis did a professional clean up job of the tail which never wagged and Windies collapsed to 177 all out with as many as 32 balls wasted in their quota of 50 overs! It was a pity that Lendl Simmons, the specialist batsman who had replaced Jerome Taylor had to bat as low as no.8 and was left stranded on 14 not out. Shane Bond, Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori picked up three wickets each. Brendon McCullum had a great day taking four catches behind the sticks.
Daren Powell gave an energetic start with the brand new white ball removing Peter Fulton and Hamish Marshall for hardly anything on the scoreboard. Fulton was clean bowled in the second ball of the NZ reply as he played right across to a delivery that angled in and then swung away late to have him squared up. Marshall did stick to the crease for a while before he played a drive too early to be caught at mid off. New Zealand were 36 for 2, but they never looked back with Fleming and Styris taking care of the situation. Fleming was playing some dashing shots to ensure that his side never got bogged down while Styris struggled for sometime to even get off the mark. But he soon settled down to get involved in a promising partnership which was broken by his bad calling that saw his skipper get run out. Fleming was done in by a direct throw from Lara, who was at short mid wicket with Stryis calling for a non existent run. Fleming made 45 from 66 with 6 fours and a six.
The weather conditions were getting worse by every minute gone by. Scott Styris and Craig McMillan were sensible enough to anticipate any rain interruptions and the focus was to keep their wickets intact. It was because every wicket that falls would only increase the Duckworth Lewis Target. The two right handers got themselves and their team into the comfort zone and after a brief hold up in play, they opened their shoulders to get some boundaries rolling. The chase was done and dusted with as many as 64 balls to spare with Styris stepping up the gas after reaching his 18th ODI fifty. He remained unconquered on 80 from 90 balls with 7 fours while McMillan played the ideal foil remaining not out on 33 from 57 with 3 fours. It was a wonderful 92-run unbroken stand for the fourth wicket that had sealed the game for the Kiwis without any mess.