So close, yet so far

The haunting memory of Windies' five-run defeat to New Zealand

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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MANCHESTER, England — Though West Indies lost to New Zealand in their last outing at Old Trafford there was grit shown, particularly down the lower order, as Carlos Brathwaite made a stunning hundred at the other end.

The West Indies were 164-7 in the ICC World Cup clash when number nine batsman Kemar Roach went to the crease.

At that point the New Zealand score of 291-8 was seemingly out of sight, but Roach faced 31 balls while making 14 in a 47-run stand with Brathwaite.

Sheldon Cottrell was next in, and he soaked up 26 balls for his 15 during a 34-run partnership for the ninth wicket.

yet, at 245-9, it was all still in New Zealand's hands but last man, Oshane Thomas, and Brathwaite had other ideas.

Thomas did not score, but spent 24 minutes at the crease and confidently saw off four deliveries, while Brathwaite hit boundary after boundary to propel the West Indies charge.

He was dismissed for 101 with the team's score on 286, going for the six that would have won the game with an over to spare.

“I give credit to the lower order, everyone that came in…everyone believed we could get over the line,” the 30-year-old Brathwaite said afterwards.

“It's obviously heartbreaking to get so close and not get over the line but there were some positives, and I think the fight that the lower order showed was commendable,” he continued.

West Indies captain Jason Holder, 27, was also encouraged by the resolve the team displayed when all appeared lost.

“We fought right down to the very end. We came right back into the game when pretty much everyone thought the game was over. And credit to the lower half — the guys really put it in their hands today and took responsibility.

“Top-notch [innings] by Carlos. He was outstanding.he gave us a chance, [and] gave us hope. [It was] just unfortunate at the very end that we weren't able to get a win,” he said.

“These things really give us a lot of hope, and they obviously make us very, very proud to know that the guys can fight very, very hard down to the end,” Holder added.

Earlier in the day New Zealand, asked to take first strike, were under the cosh at 7-2 after West Indies left-arm pacer Cottrell claimed two wickets in the game's opening over.

Thanks to a 160-run third-wicket stand between captain Kane Williamson and former skipper Ross Taylor, New Zealand rallied to 291-8 from their allotted 50 overs. Williamson led the way with a characteristically crafty 148, while Taylor hit 69.

The irrepressible 29-year-old Cottrell, who was also outstanding in the field, captured 4-56.

In reply, the West Indies weren't off to the greatest start, losing Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran, both for one, to slide to 20-2.

But 39-year-old batting star Chris Gayle (87) was dropped three times while pummeling a series of boundaries to combine for a quick-fire, 122-run partnership for the third wicket with fellow left-hander Shimron Hetmyer (54).

Thereafter West Indies suffered a slump in which five wickets fell for 22 runs before Brathwaite and the tailenders came within five runs of ruining the New Zealand party.

The West Indies have three points from six games and are effectively out of semi-final contention. Their next game is against India (nine points) at Old Trafford tomorrow.

— Sanjay Myers

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