Plots that will decide the quarter-final winner from New Zealand and West Indies
New Zealand have been impressive in this World Cup, mainly by force of their captain’s personality. He has fewer runs than Sean Williams, William Porterfield and Ian Bell, among others. Yet his aggressive leadership defines his side.
The co-hosts have such a potent attack, it is difficult to know where the main threat comes from. Trent Boult has swung the ball prodigiously, and Daniel Vettori is majestic. Southee’s best three returns in 91 one-day internationals have all been at this ground.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said there is “unusual” bounce at Wellington’s Regional Stadium. He did not get into the specifics of why. Suffice to say, if there is uneven bounce, tall bowlers are usually the most threatening. Holder is towering – Nasir Aziz, the diminutive UAE player, came up to his waist – unerring, and in form, too.
He missed the last match with a sore back, and his replacement, Johnson Charles, excelled in the easy win over the UAE. However, his teammates have attested to the fact he is pumped up for this quarter-final. Gayle has struggled against lesser bowling attacks than he will face against New Zealand, but his form could be decisive.
New Zealand will win if ...
The conditions are even for both innings. West Indies could win a good toss, like they did against the UAE, and still conceivably get blown away by the hosts. The Black Caps have the players for every situation: power hitters, batsmen who can drop anchor, swing bowlers, a fast man, and the canniest spinner in the tournament.
West Indies will win if ...
Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Joel Garner do a Sam Beckett and make a “Quantum Leap” from the late 1970s to today, and turn up in maroon kits. New Zealand are miles ahead on paper. That said, they still have a puncher’s chance. As Darren Sammy pointed out, it could be like James “Buster” Douglas beating Mike Tyson.
3 -- Times New Zealand have played the West Indies at Wellington Regional Stadium. They have won all three, by eight wickets, 81 runs, and seven wickets.
11 -- Runs Marlon Samuels has made in the three innings he has played since scoring an unbeaten 133 against Zimbabwe in the pool stage.
28 -- Wickets between New Zealand’s new-ball pairing, Trent Boult (15) and Tim Southee (13), so far in the World Cup.
Hesson’s Tuesday news conference was more a geology lesson than cricket chat. “It’s a drop-in and it had a big gap underneath it, now it’s got some rubble or shingle underneath,” the New Zealand coach said of the pitch. England were blown away for 123 in the first World Cup match there, but the next matches both exceeded 300 in the first innings.
The West Indian cricketers, according to the cliche, love a good party. They would ruin the cup carnival if they were to cause an upset in this game, though. New Zealand has been buzzing, in an understated way, over the progress of their side at this World Cup. Only if that expectation starts to weigh on them can they trip up against this West Indies side.
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Updated: July 21, 2017 06:41 PM