ICC Men's T20 World Cup Americas Region Final (2)
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Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, praised wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi for his unbeaten 51 off 28 balls, which helped the hosts beat West Indies by four wickets in the second T20, and said the batsman was the difference between the two sides in the series. Ronchi's innings helped New Zealand chase down 160, and followed his quickfire 48 off 25 in the first T20, which had powered the side to a match-winning score.
"I think he's been brilliant and has been the difference in both games," McCullum said. "His ability to come in and play as freely as what he has, to dominate the partnerships in the last two games and to put the pressure straight back on West Indies has been brilliant. His score in the last game gave him that little bit more freedom as well to just go out there and play his natural game."
Ronchi came in with the score at 79 for 5 in the 11th over when New Zealand needed 81 from 57. Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum had fallen after getting off to starts while Colin Munro and Corey Anderson were dismissed for single-digit scores. The 68-run stand between Ronchi and Ross Taylor brought New Zealand to the brink of the win.
McCullum also praised pace bowler Adam Milne, who picked two wickets for 22 runs in four overs . In the first T20, Milne had finished with figures of 4-0-15-1.
"I thought he [Milne] was brilliant again tonight," McCullum said. "It was quite a slow surface but he still asked plenty of questions pace-wise and the areas he operated in were good, aggressive areas and he got the rewards again tonight. It was another big step for him to put two games like that."
New Zealand made one change in the bowling department, bringing in Mitchell McClenaghan in place of Tim Southee, who had conceded 36 in the first T20. McCullum said their decision to rotate the bowlers worked well and the team was enjoying a certain luxury in their bench strength.
"I think leaving out Tim [Southee] today was a smart decision," he said. "We've got a lot of cricket coming up, you got to be realistic as well and make sure you are able to rotate those guys through without major changes, just subtle changes. And the luxury we've got at the moment is that we've got some good stock as well."
Ronchi, who was named the Man of the Match, was delighted to have put runs on the board in both T20s after scoring only 34 runs in the four ODIs earlier.
"I've been feeling really good but haven't been putting numbers on the board much and it's been good to have the faith of Brendon and Hesson and to perform well in these two games has been really nice," Ronchi said. "It was also good having Rosco there, he's got a level head as well and we had nine or ten overs to go, so we thought we should just bat and if it's a dot or a four, we just take whatever is there and then just get in the game and things will happen and that's what happened."