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Windies into Super Eight

June 13, 2024

TAROUBA, Trinidad, CMC – Tournament co-hosts West Indies qualified for the Super Eight quarterfinals of the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup after a miraculous, unbeaten 68 from Sherfane Rutherford enabled them to recover from thoughtless batting to set the foundation for a 13-run win against New Zealand on Wednesday in Trinidad.

The 25-year-old Guyanese left-hander defied an inexplicable batting collapse and an uneven Brian Lara Cricket Academy pitch to crack two fours and six sixes from 39 balls in a Player-of-the-Match performance that enabled the Caribbean side to post a competitive 149 for nine from their allocation of 20 overs after they were put in to bat.

The bowlers – led by pacer Alzarri Joseph with four for 19 from his allotted four overs and left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie with three for 25 from four overs – then kept their wits and restricted New Zealand to 136 for nine to formalise the third win on the bounce for Rovman Powell and his side.

Before this match, West Indies beat Papua New Guinea (PNG) by five wickets last Sunday at the Guyana National Stadium, where they also beat Uganda last Saturday by a record 134 runs – their largest margin of victory by runs in a T20I.

Victory carried the Caribbean side above Afghanistan to the top of the group, with the two set to play each other this coming Monday at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia in the final match of the group stage of the tournament.

A win for Afghanistan against PNG on Thursday under the lights at the BLCA will also take them through to the Super Eight and practically eliminate New Zealand.

West Indies were 22 for four in the final over of the Power Play, when Rutherford walked to the crease, and they sunk to 30 for five, when Brandon King was caught behind off pacer Jimmy Neesham for nine, groping at a delivery outside the off stump in the next over.

Rutherford put together a series of tidy partnerships with Akeal Hosein, Andre Russell, and Romario Shepherd to inch the Caribbean side past 100, but they crumbled to 112 for nine in the 18th over when left-arm pacer Trent Boult bowled vice-captain Alzarri Joseph for six with a delivery that kept low.

But Rutherford calculated correctly that New Zealand captain Kane Williamson needed secondary bowlers to deliver the final two overs of the innings, and he cashed in to take 37 off them, including three sixes from the medium pace of Daryl Mitchell in the 19th over to beef up the West Indies total.

“I was in the IPL for two months, so I was preparing, even though I was not playing,” Rutherford said during the post-play TV interview. “I did a lot of work and did my planning. Keeping it simple and backing my skill – I think that was the key [to this innings].”

“I was just telling myself to take it deep. Me and Sammy had a talk, and I knew if we got momentum, I could make it up in the end.”

He added: “Looking at their bowling line-up, I knew they were short of two overs. I knew the two bowlers they had use to make up, I felt I could score maximum runs against them, and I think I did that well.
“Reaching the Super Eight, it’s one tick in the box, but it’s only the start of something big to come. Hopefully, we can keep winning, we can keep the momentum, and hopefully, we go further this year.”

Boult was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, taking three for 16 from his allotted four overs, while fellow pacers Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson bagged two wickets apiece.

There was a moment of history during the West Indies innings when left-hander Nicholas Pooran, playing his 91st T20I, surpassed the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss”, Chris Gayle, on 1 899 runs, to become the leading scorer for the Caribbean side in T20Is when he edged Boult to third man for the first of his three fours and the first boundary in the innings in the third over to move to five.

West Indies restricted New Zealand to 36 for two at the end of the Power Play, but the introduction of Motie swung the tide with the prized scalps of Williamson in the seventh over, left-hander Rachin Ravindra in the ninth, and Mitchell in the 11th that had the visitors reeling on 63 for five.

Joseph returned for a second spell and cleaned up Neesham in the 16th over, and removed Glenn Phillips, whose 40 was the top score, and Tim Southee off successive balls in the 18th over to make sure that there was no comeback story for the Black Caps.

The margin of victory could have been wider had Romario Shepherd not conceded 19 to left-hander Mitchell Santner in the final over.

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