Holder highlights Brathwaite's knock as centrepiece in match of 'many positives'

Sanjay Myers
Sport Reporter
@ ICC Cricket World Cup
In England & Wales

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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MANCHESTER, England — It was not the fairy tale ending the West Indies had three years ago in Kolkata, but Carlos Brathwaite did his sensational best to replicate it before he was last man out for an 82-ball 101 in the five-run loss to New Zealand yesterday.

In the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup final in India, the 30-year-old Brathwaite hit four sixes in a row to power the West Indies to an unlikely win over England, and yesterday his mighty blow to long on was within a metre of giving his team only their second victory at the 2019 50-over World Cup.

Trent Boult, one of New Zealand's heroes on a remarkably nerve-racking day at Old Trafford, held on safely even as he teetered near the boundary's edge with Brathwaite and the rest of the West Indies virtually willing the ball over the fence.

That catch terminated the West Indies innings on 286 with an over to spare in reply to New Zealand's 291-8.

New Zealand, who remain unbeaten at the tournament, reclaimed top spot with 11 points, and are virtually safe for a semi-final place, while West Indies stay seventh with three points.

Mathematically, the Caribbean men can still reach the last four, but the combination of factors needed to go their way is nigh on impossible.

West Indies captain, Jason Holder, praised Brathwaite for his maiden One-Day International hundred — the first by a West Indian at this tournament.

“Tough game at the very end, but I'm proud of the guys, especially Carlos. Having said that, [there are] still a lot of positives. You can probably pinpoint one or two areas where we fell down. We brought ourselves a long way back into the game, I don't think you can fault the efforts,” Holder, 27, said in a post-match television interview.

“We lost wickets at crucial stages. We lost Hetty [Shimron Hetmyer] at a bad time,” he continued.

“We've still got a lot to play for, we've got our pride to play for. We can still finish the tournament on a high,” the West Indies captain said in reference to his side's ambitions for the three preliminary games remaining.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who struck a magnificent man-of-the-match 148, was relieved with the outcome.

“[Boult] has got very good hands. We put a few down in the field today, but I suppose it all made for a fantastic finish. A bit too close for comfort — I thought the guys did an outstanding job in the roles they were given,” the 28-year-old said during a television interview.

“The West Indies side is incredibly dangerous. The power they pack through the order, we saw it today,” Williamson added.

He noted that it was difficult for his team to recover after losing two wickets in the first over after being asked to bat first.

“They bowled really, really well. They got the ball swinging and they hit the area fairly well on that surface. I was looking to play the merit of the ball, and make the best possible decisions,” he explained.

Looking past Brathwaite's innings, which almost single-handedly pulled the West Indies from an unlikely 164-7 to 286 all out in their reply to New Zealand's 291, the Caribbean side will look back at several opportunites lost.

They had New Zealand 7-2 in the first over after left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell dismissed openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, both to first-ball ducks. Williamson and Ross Taylor (69) then repaired the innings with a third-wicket partnership of 160, which set the platform for their eventual total.

When batting, the West Indies were almost always ahead of the run rate, and looked good for victory when left-handers Chris Gayle (87) and Shimron Hetmyer (54) were belting the ball to all parts.

In fact, the West Indies were cruising at 142-2 in the 23rd over before Hetmyer's dismissal precipitated a middle-order collapse that involved the loss of five wickets for 22 runs.

Brathwaite's jaw-dropping innings brought them back into the game and almost gave them a near impossible win, but in the end it came down to narrow margins and Boult's steady pair of hands.

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