Vettori inspires 107-run victory
New Zealand 266 all out (Fleming 67, Astle 57, Sarwan 3-31) beat West Indies 159 (Smith 44, Vettori 5-30) by 107 runs
Daniel Vettori gave a virtuoso exhibition of the left-arm spinner's art - and rifled throws at the stumps with the accuracy of a knife-thrower - as New Zealand romped to a 107-run victory over West Indies in the final of the NatWest Series at Lord's. Vettori finished with remarkable figures of 5 for 30, and ran out Devon Smith - top-scorer for West Indies with 44 - and Ian Bradshaw with direct hits as New Zealand ensured that their first-ever one-day international appearance at Lord's would be one that they would never forget. Despite a late collapse, they tallied 266, and they then bowled and fielded with such discipline and verve that West Indies were never in the hunt.
It was Vettori's throwing arm that started West Indies' slow slide to oblivion. A direct hit from short third man sent Devon Smith on his way, and ended a 44-run partnership with Brian Lara that had given West Indies fleeting hope (98 for 3). That had come after both Chris Gayle (4) - caught low to his right by Scott Styris at second slip off Jacob Oram - and Ramnaresh Sarwan, run-out for 19 after being sent back by Smith, had fallen cheaply.
Minutes later, though, Vettori dealt the killer blow. Lara had made 30 when he was trapped plumb in front as he shuffled across to a ball that angled in to the stumps (105 for 4). And then Dwayne Bravo, whose unhappy sojourn in the middle had produced just 4 runs in 14 balls, flicked a delivery straight to Styris at midwicket. Styris fumbled once, but held on to intensify the gloom in the West Indian dressing room.
Thereafter, it was a procession. Ricardo Powell missed more than he hit in an innings of 18, and it ended with an ugly leading edge to backward point where Hamish Marshall took an outstanding catch. And Dwayne Smith made just 2, trapped leg before by one that hustled on to him.
Vettori than briefly stepped out of the limelight, allowing Chris Harris to pick up his 200th wicket in ODIs, the first New Zealander to do so. Ridley Jacobs was the name into the record books, slogging one straight to Chris Cairns at deep midwicket (150 for 8).
Enter Vettori, and another stunning direct hit that sent the dawdling Ian Bradshaw back to the pavilion. Moments later, it was all over, as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who batted in turtle mode when hare was required, belted one down to Craig McMillan at long-on.
New Zealand's innings had been built around a classy 67 from Stephen Fleming, and a first-wicket partnership of 120 with Nathan Astle (57). But they lost their way in the home stretch, losing their last seven wickets for just 49 runs. Sarwan was the unlikely bowling star, scalping 3 for 31 - including the wicket of Cairns - and Tino Best, who had taken fearful punishment in his opening spell, then came back to mop up the last vestiges of resistance.
New Zealand's cause was hamstrung by two rain delays, the first after 18.1 overs and then again in the 41st over. When they went off the second time, they were handily placed at 220 for 4, with 57 deliveries still to be bowled. But from there, they couldn't find the boundary rope even once, as Sarwan, Chris Gayle and Best slowed the flow of runs to the tiniest of trickles.
Cairns's dismissal for just 6 was key. On his last appearance at Lord's, he had lashed a breathtaking 82 in a Test match. Here, he stepped out to whack a Sarwan delivery slanting down leg, and turned back to see the ball ricochet onto the stumps off Jacob's forearm (232 for 5).
McMillan, whose rapid 71-run partnership with Marshall (44) had rebuilt the innings after the first rain-induced wobble, cruised to 52, but in his effort to up the ante, he lofted the returning Best straight to deep cover, where Chanderpaul avoided a collision with Bradshaw to take an excellent catch (249 for 6).
Harris made only 1 before presenting Sarwan with a sharp return catch low to his left (252 for 7), and Vettori gave him another notch on the belt by holing out to Dwayne Smith at deep midwicket for 6 (265 for 8). Best ensured that there would be no late flourish by having Oram (15) caught behind, and then running out Gareth Hopkins with a smart pick-up and throw.
It hadn't started anywhere near as well for West Indies. Both Best and Bradshaw struggled to find a containing line, and Fleming got going with some sublime flicks off the pads and beautifully timed drives and cuts through the off side. Astle was more circumspect, but a couple of beefy cover-drives when the bowlers erred in length meant that there was no respite for Lara from either end, after he had gambled and put New Zealand in.
West Indies didn't help themselves with some poor fielding - Gayle dropped a sitter from Fleming off Best's bowling in the third over, and Powell then failed to hang on to a fierce slash from Astle with the score on 79.
Fleming batted beautifully until the first delay, and then appeared to lose his focus, scooping a catch to Gayle at point off Dwayne Smith's bowling. Bravo then got in on the act, getting Astle to cut one uppishly to Gayle at backward point (142 for 2). Styris didn't bother to hang around long enough to gauge the pace of the wicket, and an ugly hoick at Bravo flew off the leading edge to Powell at point (146 for 3).
Marshall and McMillan restored order with some well-placed singles and powerful strokes, but then the rain came to wash away New Zealand's hopes of a huge total. As it turned out, 266 was more than enough, especially once Vettori proved to be the man with the golden arm.
Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo