For West Indies, the lament has long been that two or three fire, but find themselves having to make up for the failures of their colleagues. On Tuesday, nine of the 11 players scored more than 20, and nine of the top 10 produced strike rates of 110. It was a batting performance inevitably evocative of England over the last four years, and if they manage to replicate this with consistency, their 36-year wait for a World Cup semi-final berth may finally draw to a close.
Hope stroked 101 off 86, without looking aggressive at almost any point during his innings except the start, where he dispatched Trent Boult – otherwise the best bowler of the game on either side – for 19 in his fifth over. The class of his shots, aided by the natural talent he oozes helped him score runs while not taking too many risks or generating the type of eye-catching power one expects to see from West Indies.
New Zealand’s bowling performance was, to put it mildly, as ordinary as they’ve been all year. Boult kept a lid on a total that still ballooned to 422, but Matt Henry couldn’t reprise Tim Southee’s duties from the other end, with Chris Gayle teeing off in the opening six overs. At the death overs, when Henry returned, he was mercilessly savaged, conceding an eye-watering 107 in the nine overs he bowled.
Ish Sodhi, too, was ordinary, and while Mitchell Santner played the holding role as well as a certain other bespectacled left-arm spinner has done for New Zealand over countless years, the consistency required against a side like the West Indies was missing throughout the innings. The attempted Yorkers regularly became low full tosses or half-volleys, and with the margin of error almost non-existent, the runs rate never seemed to fall even as New Zealand began to take wickets reasonably regularly over the last 20 overs.
That batting performance was deftly backed up by the pace trio of Cottrell, Jason Holder and Kemar Roach, and the game was over before anyone else had rolled their arm over. Holder and Roach in particular gave the batsmen nothing with their lines and lengths, and with New Zealand wary of taking too many risk early on, particularly after the early departure of Guptill, the result was a constant built-up of pressure.
Summarized scores: West Indies 421 (Hope 101, Russell 54) beat New Zealand 330 (Blundell 106, Williamson 85, Brathwaite 3-75) by 91 runs