Whether Bangladesh putting on 333 runs while chasing vs Australia, whether NZ pulling off a brilliant chase vs South Africa, whether the weakest of the lot Sri Lanka defeating the most powerful of the lot England, whether Afghanistan upsetting India for an almost nerve wrenching loss or whether West Indies from nowhere pulling out a thriller of a match yesterday. Matches like this has certainly brought back the much needed love and respect for ODI cricket, more than that, it will also be a huge lesson for young U12 and U14 cricketers of the latest generation who will come to know that Test Cricket is the real school of cricket and post that follows ODI Cricket. Yes T20 cricket is good but that’s morely a tool for entertainment but matches like this is what real cricket is all about!
NZ after being put to bat first at Old Trafford Ground faced some heat from West Indies with Sheldon Cottrell bowling two unplayable deliveries to dismiss Guptil and Munro in the very 1st over. However, the backbone of NZ cricket, the experienced duo of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson again took the onus of reviving their team on their shoulders stitching a glorious 160 run stand for the 3rd wicket. Taylor looked rock solid in his 69 off 95 balls while Kane Williamson became the 1st NZ skipper to score back to back hundreds in World Cup. Kane went on to score a classy 148 off 154 balls (14 fours, 1 six) with lots of running between the wickets to push NZ from 7/2 to 291/8 in 50 overs. Sheldon Cottrell with 4/56 was brilliant with the ball especially in the opening spell where at one stage he was looking unplayable.
West Indies despite a few quick wickets just like how NZ lost finally got to see their big man Gayle plonking 6 sixes en-route his 84 ball 87. Gayle and Hetmyer (54) stabilized the innings with a 122 run stand but it was again some crucial breakthroughs by Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson reducing West Indies from 142/3 to 164/7 in no time. Even though Windies had too many overs in hand at one stage but all the major batsman were dismissed, only a few bowlers and out of form Braithwaite were left and a big loss was inevitable in the cards for them.
However, Carlos Braithwaite, the man who has been labelled as a one match wonder post his world cup heroics where he smashed 4 sixes in the final over proved that he is a man who pounces on big opportunities and holds the ability to win games single handedly. Carlos co-ordinated with the wagged tail and went on to score a thundering 101 off just 82 balls again pushing West Indies to 164/7 to 286 runs in a magical chase. Braithwaite smashed some of his trademark fearless sixes instilling that energy booster into the crowd and West Indian fans who had completely lost hope of winning the match. With just 6 runs needed in the last over, Carlos could have easily sealed off a win by taking a single of the last ball of Neesham’s over. But as he is known for, he is not the man to take those nervy singles and play like a pussy till the end with just 1wkt in hand, neither is West Indies cricket known for that! Carlos tried to finish the game in style with a big six which eventually resulted in a catch in the safe hands of Trent Boult.
New Zealand won the match by 5 runs while Kane Williamson was declared ‘man of the match’. However the spirit of the West Indies cricket was reignited by the tough fight given by Braithwaite who brought up his maiden ODI hundred in the game.