21 March 2015
Guptill double-ton takes New Zealand to semi-final
Team posts 393/6 before bowlers, led by Boult, earn 143-run win and knock the West Indies out of the World Cup
Martin Guptill’s unbeaten 237, off just 163 balls, was the centerpiece of New Zealand's 393 for 6.
The name Martin is synonymous with New Zealand cricket in general, and batting excellence in particular, and the man who made it so, Crowe, would not have begrudged the fact that it was another who caused the name to ring around the Wellington Regional Stadium with the kind of exuberant reverence usually reserved for the All Blacks.
Mar-tin! Gup-till! Mar-Tin! Gup-till! Mar-tin! Gup-till! the cheering built to a crescendo, and the response from the middle was pitch perfect. Drilling Andre Russell back down the ground for four, Guptill, on Saturday (March 21) became the first New Zealander to score 200 in a One-Day International.
Guptill’s unbeaten 237, comfortably the highest score in a World Cup match, and only bettered by Rohit Sharma’s 264 in all ODIs, powered New Zealand to 393 for 6 in their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 quarter-final match. In the end, West Indies managed 250, handing New Zealand a 143-run win and a semi-final spot.
When the innings began, there was little indication from Guptill of what was to come. In fact, it was Brendon McCullum who went hell for leather, but his early fall gave the West Indies purpose.
That Kane Williamson could not go big, falling for 33, barely went noticed thanks to the manner in which Guptill built his innings. Trotting to 50 off 64 balls, cantering to 100 off 111, till which time he had not attempted one six, Guptill began the gallop, using only 23 balls to add his third 50. He then barreled down the final straight, going from 150 to 200 in 18 balls and then capping things off by smacking 37 off the final 11 balls that came his way. It was an example of perfect innings construction.
Guptill’s early boundaries were his prettiest, driven straight back past the bowler, all along the turf. His middle-innings hits were the most efficient, no premeditation involved, placement marrying timing repeatedly. It was his later efforts, though, that were the most rousing, the ball booming off the middle of the bat to make a mockery of the not inconsequential boundaries that were being cleared with impunity.
When Guptill’s final six – his 11th to go with 24 fours – landed on the roof of the stands, he stood so tall that it was hard to recall the scrawny kid who once lay on a hospital bed, waiting for his favourite cricketers to pay him a visit after a forklift accident cost him three of his toes. On that day, Stephen Fleming, then New Zealand captain, popped by to visit; today, Fleming was on his feet in applause.
Guptill’s magnum opus took New Zealand to 393, and the West Indies’ response with the bat was robust for a time. Chris Gayle cleared his front leg and launched the ball over the on side often enough, hitting 42 of his first 50 runs in sixes, only one run of which came through the off side. But, at the other end, the sticks were being ignited by Trent Boult, whose left-arm darts homed in on the stumps with unerring accuracy. Even as the runs flowed, Boult would not be denied, sending down as many as 44 dot balls in picking up four wickets from his ten overs.
Samuels fell to an astounding catch. He line-drove Boult to the deep, assuming he had enough on the ball to clear the fielder at deep backward point. Daniel Vettori leapt into the air like an athlete at a slam-dunk completion, held a stunner one-handed, and settled back down to earth a metre from the ropes as though wondering what the fuss was all about.
When Gayle (61) was blasted out by a 149.1-kph rocket from Adam Milne, the West Indies was 120 for 5, and all the hitting in the world could not get it past the line. Some energetic lower-order biffing flattered the margin as the West Indies ended on 250 from 30.3 overs, New Zealand winning by 143 runs and setting up a semi-final date with South Africa.
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