Cool Vettori takes New Zealand home
New Zealand found a cool head in Daniel Vettori and held their nerve to sneak home in a low-scoring ODI against West Indies at Queenstown to take a 2-0 lead in the series. When West Indies were put in to bat and restricted to 200 for 8 it appeared as though New Zealand would saunter to victory. But Ian Bradshaw and Fidel Edwards reduced New Zealand to 13 for 4, and wrested the initiative back for West Indies, but watched in dismay as Vettori made a calm and collected unbeaten 53 to guide New Zealand home with three wickets to spare.
West Indies' inability to close out a game once they had a grip on it - they simply lacked the firepower in both batting and bowling departments - once again came to the fore, and New Zealand's depth in batting, with Vettori coming in at No. 8 ensured that even the loss of early wickets could be overcome. Had New Zealand been asked to score at more than four an over the situation may have been different, but in the end all it took was for one man to bat sensibly.
When New Zealand began their pursuit of 201, though, the pace of Edwards and the probing accuracy of Bradshaw proved too hot to handle. Edwards hustled the batsmen from the word go, and struck in his first over, trapping Jamie How lbw for a duck. Bradshaw ensured that Edwards's effort was not wasted, backing him up well with some controlled swing bowling. Lou Vincent played down the wrong line to a perfectly pitched delivery that straightened and hit the top of off stump.
One run later Edwards put New Zealand in deeper trouble, getting rid of the dangerous Nathan Astle. Edwards fired one in short and Astle went for the pull, but was beaten for pace and could only hit the ball to Wavell Hinds at square-leg. Again Bradshaw backed up Edwards, trapping Stephen Fleming in front of the stumps. At 13 for 4, New Zealand were in serious danger of collapsing.
Scott Styris and Peter Fulton were left to arrest the slide and they were helped by the fact that their target was only 201, and a few quiet overs would not overly affect their chances. Fulton, graceful and considered, became the fulcrum of the New Zealand innings, and even the fall of Styris, who played away from his body to one from Jerome Taylor that bounced a bit more and presented a catch to slip, did not deter him. At the halfway mark of the innings New Zealand's hopes rested largely with Fulton, who was motoring towards his half-century. But he fell soon after - one run shy of 50 - edging to Denesh Ramdin off Rawl Lewis.
When Brendon McCullum, shouldering additional responsibility in the absence of Chris Cairns, was run out by a sharp bit of fielding after he had made a better than run-a-ball 45, West Indies had New Zealand on the run at 141 for 7, and should have swooped in for the kill. They did what they could, mixing spin with pace, rotating things around, but no single bowler looked consistently threatening.
Vettori, realising that all he needed to do was stay at the crease to ensure victory, settled in and began to score freely. He used angles to good effect, squeezing the ball through third-man and shoveling it past square-leg to pick up boundaries at regular intervals. Before they realised it, the match had slipped from West Indies' grasp as Vettori (53 not out) shared in a 60-run unbroken partnership with James Franklin for the 8th wicket that took New Zealand to victory.
But it wasn't as though West Indies were particularly in control when they first began. Their batsmen showed excessive caution against disciplined and tidy pace bowling, and Bond, although excellent, should not have been allowed to get away with a first spell of 6-4-2-1. While not looking to score quickly West Indies' top-order lost wickets, and at 60 for 4 from nearly 21 overs, were in need of something special to boost their score to respectability.
Runako Morton diligently ground out 93 balls at the crease for 39, but it was Wavell Hinds who did the bulk of the scoring, showing what could be achieved by positive intent. Although he did not at any stage attempt to attack the bowling outright, Hinds was constantly on the lookout for ones and twos and eventually the loose ball came along. When it did - mostly off the mediumpace of Styris - Hinds made sure he made it count, slicing through the off side with good bat speed.
Hinds could not have done it all himself, and he was fortunate to have Morton drop anchor at one end and ensure that the bowlers were forced to work hard. From the precariousness of 60 for 4 Hinds pushed the score along to 184 for 6 before Bond, returning for a second spell, had him caught behind for 76. The tail had little to offer after Hinds was gone, but managed to push the score to an even 200 for 8 off 50 overs. In the end, that proved to be too little to stave off defeat.
Chris Gayle b Bond 0 (5 for 1)
Walked across his stumps and was bowled
Daren Ganga c McCullum b Mason 7 (10 for 2)
Fished outside the off stump
Ramnaresh Sarwan c McCullum b Mason 14 (37 for 3)
Went after a wide one
Shivnarine Chanderpaul b Franklin 17 (60 for 4)
Chopped one back on
Runako Morton c Astle b Vettori 39 (130 for 5)
Holed out to midwicket going for a big one
Dwayne Smith run out (Styis/McCullum) 17 (158 for 6)
Was ball watching and found short of the crease
Wavell Hinds c McCullum b Bond 76 (184 for 7)
Surprised by extra pace
Ian Bradshaw b Patel 5 (197 for 8)
Fidel Edwards run out (Franklin/Bond) 2 (200 for 9)
Sacrificed himself attempting a second run off the last ball
Jamie How lbw b Edwards 0 (10 for 1)
Trapped in front by a pacy delivery
Lou Vincent b Bradshaw 5 (13 for 2)
Played down the wrong line
Nathan Astle c Hinds b Edwards 2 (13 for 3)
Beaten for pace, pulled to square-leg
Stephen Fleming lbw b Bradshaw 0 (13 for 4)
Fell over and was trapped lbw
Scott Styris c Gayle b Taylor 10 (49 for 5)
Guided one that boubnced extra to slip
Peter Fulton c Ramdin b Lewis 49 (120 for 6)
Chopped a legbreak to the keeper
Brendon McCullum run out (Morton/Ramdin) 45 (171 for 7)
Just short attempting a tight run
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo