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On the Ball, NZ v West Indies, Super Eights, Antigua
'It would take brave money to bet against the Kiwis'
March 29, 2007
John Wright analyses a comfortable victory for New Zealand
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Series/Tournaments: ICC World Cup
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New Zealand put up a very impressive performance in today's match and looked pretty confident and they will be a serious force as the competition progresses. Stephen Fleming seemed delighted to win the toss and had no hesitation in electing to field first. He gave his real strike bowler Shane Bond the best opportunity and he was most impressive bowling his eight overs for 31.

He got a lot of movement through the air and he was assisted from the other end by Michael Mason, who is not that experienced, but was very fruitful in bowling his first six overs for 14 runs. The early breakthrough came when Shivnarine Chanderpaul was almost unable to play, and edged Bond. At one stage, after reaching 60 in an impressive fashion, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle looked like they would be a test for the New Zealanders. But then entered Jacob Oram, who has not been a big part of the New Zealand bowling plan of late.

He seemed to find extra bounce in the wicket and perhaps a little extra pace. He looks to be back to full fitness. The catch that dismissed Sarwan was perhaps the turning point of the game. It was an excellent piece of work by the impressive Brendon McCullum. From that moment on New Zealand seized control of the match. Samuels came and went then Gayle, who was undone by Oram, cleverly going around the wicket, to put West Indies on to the back foot. Brian Lara looked as though he was going to be the key to West Indies reaching a big total before he was dismissed by Scott Syris, whose game was workmanlike. West Indies struggled and it was hard to understand the selection of the West Indies final XI. When you had young Lendl Simmons coming in at eight it certainly unbalanced the side. Then by making a small total it made their task impossible.

New Zealand were athletic as ever in the field and put on a very good team bowling performance. James Franklin was put under early pressure, then Fleming gave the ball to Oram, who bowled his eight overs for 23 and took three wickets. Styris certainly enjoys playing his cricket in the West Indies: ten overs for 35 and one wicket. Daniel Vettori cleverly bowled his spinners, and with not much turn in the wicket took 3 for 39.

All out 177 never seemed to be enough. The only question mark with the New Zealand team is that they have had to make rearrangements to their batting order. With the loss of Lou Vincent, with a broken wrist, Peter Fulton was elevated to the opening position to partner Fleming then Hamish Marshall slotted in at three. West Indies needed early wickets and when Fulton went in the second delivery perhaps there was a glimmer of hope, but Fleming steadied the ship. Marshall, just finding his feet, struggled to reach 15, then after the dismissal of Fleming, Styris and Craig McMillan took the match away from the West Indies.

West Indies looked lacklustre in the field and certainly Daren Powell, who was exceptionally impressive with the ball, did not have the partnership. He felt that once the new ball was old. They opened with Dwayne Smith, who never really looked comfortable in the opening bowler's position. Corey Collymore was just workmanlike and West Indies struggled because of their choice and the fifth bowler was always under pressure.

Styris batted well for his 80 not out, and McMillan seems to be enjoying his role. So it was a comfortable victory for New Zealand. New Zealand and Australia now look to be improving. Some things are going backwards in this World Cup, but it was a good day for the Kiwis. What they needed was confidence and the ability to play without pressure. They have established that in their first few matches. They sit alongside Australia on top and will be looking forward to the next fixture. They are not in the semi-finals yet, but it will take brave money to bet against them.

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