Brilliant Windies through to T20 World Cup Super Eight

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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West Indies’ Sherfane Rutherford bats during the men’s T20 World Cup match between the West Indies and New Zealand at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba on June 12. – AP PHOTO

The International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s Twenty/20 World Cup co-hosts West Indies booked their spot in the Super Eight of the 2024 edition of the tournament when they got an exciting 13-run win against New Zealand at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba, Trinidad on June 12.

On a tricky surface, the Windies made a fighting total of 149 for nine after being sent in by the Kiwis. Guyanese left-hander Sherfane Rutherford played an amazing, game-changing knock of 68 not out off 39 balls as he put the co-hosts on his back to dig them out of a terrible position.

Rutherford raced to his fifty off just 33 balls, and he singlehandedly took the Windies to their score as he thumped 37 runs off the last two overs as he batted with last-man Gudakesh Motie — taking the pair of Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner to the cleaners with devastating hitting.

The Windies had a dreadful power play and they slipped to 23 for four inside the first six overs, before stuttering to 49 for five at the halfway stage. Nicholas Pooran (17 off 12 balls) and Andre Russell (14 off seven balls) both played breezy cameos, and Akeal Hosein (15) supported Rutherford briefly in a 28-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

After reeling at 76 for seven at one stage, the 25-year-old Rutherford put on a rescue act, and he thumped six sixes in his knock to notch his highest T20 international score to give his team a chance.

Left-arm seamer Trent Boult led the attack with three for 16, and Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee took two wickets apiece.

The Kiwis also had an almighty struggle in their turn at the crease, and they were restricted to 136 for nine in their 20 overs, with seamer Alzarri Joseph (four for 19) and left-arm spinner Motie (three for 25) being the pick of the bowlers.

After ten overs, the Kiwis were on 58 for four, as the West Indies bowlers pinned them on the back foot. After an aggressive 25 from Finn Allen atop the order, the “Black Caps” put their hopes in middle-order batsman Glenn Phillips, who put up a brave fight with his top score of 40 off 33 balls.

Both Mitchell (12) and James Neesham (ten) were dismissed cheaply, and when Phillips was sent back to the pavilion in the 18th over as he took on Joseph, the Kiwis slipped to 108 for seven. New Zealand needed 42 runs off 14 balls at that stage, and they then needed an unlikely 33 off the last over which was bowled by Romario Shepherd.

Santner (21 not out off 12 balls) clouted Shepherd’s first two balls for six, and there was a deafening silence in the massive BLCA crowd. Despite hitting another six off the fourth ball, Santner couldn’t quite do the impossible as the West Indies got the win to seal their qualification to the knockout phase.

With the win, the West Indies jump to the top of Group C with six points, with the impressive Afghanistan second with four points after two massive wins.

New Zealand sit bottom of the group after consecutive losses, and Kane Williamson’s charges are currently facing an early exit from the tourney.

Summarised Scores: West Indies 149/9 (Sherfane Rutherford 68 not out, Nicholas Pooran 17; Trent Boult 3/16, Tim Southee 2/21) vs New Zealand 136/9 (Glenn Phillips 40, Finn Allen 26; Alzarri Joseph 4/19, Gudakesh Motie 3/25). West Indies won by 13 runs.