Carlos Brathwaite hit a stunning century but just fell short of leading the West Indies to a remarkable victory as New Zealand won a World Cup thriller by five runs on Saturday.
The West Indies were all but defeated at 164 for seven, chasing 292 to win after New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s career-best 148 helped take the Black Caps to 291-8.
Inspired by Brathwaite’s remarkable hundred, the West Indies nearly secured an incredible success at Old Trafford.
But with six needed from seven balls, Brathwaite launched Jimmy Neesham for what he hoped would be the winning hit, only for Trent Boult to take a superbly judged catch just inside the long-on boundary.
Brathwaite sank to his knees in despair after falling for 101 off just 82 balls, including five sixes and nine fours, having dominated a last-wicket stand of 41 in which he scored all the runs.
Victory saw New Zealand return to the top of the table and all but secure their place in the semi-finals as a heart-breaking defeat left the West Indies on the verge of elimination.
“A tough game at the end. I’m proud of the guys, especially Carlos Brathwaite,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder.
“Getting so close I guess it does make it tougher to take.”
But he refused to blame Brathwaite for the way he got out with an over still remaining.
“We wouldn’t have gone down to the penultimate (over) if it wasn’t for Carlos as well. He’s been playing excellently well up to that point,” Holder said.
Meanwhile, Williamson was relieved by the way his side had just held their nerve.
“The West Indies are incredibly dangerous, even down their order. Credit to them, but credit to our side for getting a competitive total,” Williamson said.
“It’s a great game of cricket, good to be on the winning side. It’s been a great learning curve for us.”
Veteran opener Chris Gayle threatened to make New Zealand pay dearly for dropping him three times during a typically blistering 87 off 84 balls that delighted a near-capacity crowd.
But he eventually holed out during a collapse that saw five wickets lost for 22 runs in 28 balls.
Shai Hope, batting up front after inured opener Evin Lewis was not allowed to partner Gayle, having being off the field injured for most of New Zealand’s innings, played on to Boult for just one — the first wicket of an excellent 4-30 for the pace bowler
AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar New Zealand captain Kane Williamson led his side’s recovery against the West Indies
Gayle was first dropped on 15 when Boult floored a desperately difficult chance off Matt Henry as the ball dropped over his shoulder.
Gayle responded by hitting paceman Henry’s next two balls for six.
– Luck runs out –
He was next reprieved on 58 when Henry dropped a routine chance at deep square leg off Mitchell Santner, with the spinner again denied Gayle’s wicket in the same over when Colin Munro was unable to cling on at midwicket.
Gayle’s luck ran out when he hoisted Colin de Grandhomme to the long-on boundary where Boult held a safe catch.
Shimron Hetmyer made 54 but couldn’t press on and when Kemar Roach wqs caught behind, the West Indies were 211-8.
But then came a dramatic rally, with the game turned on its head by a stunning 48th over from Henry that yielded 25 runs.
Brathwaite, whose 37 previous one-day internationals had yielded just one fifty, flat-batted a straight six.
Next ball he hit an extraordinary one-handed six over backward point despite breaking his bat in the process.
Brathwaite then smashed a full toss straight for another six with his new bat, but even his heroics were in vain.
Earlier, Sheldon Cottrell removed New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Munro for golden ducks in the first over of the match.
But Williamson’s second successive World Cup hundred, after a match-winning 106 not out against South Africa on Wednesday, took New Zealand to a competitive total.
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