Guptill fires New Zealand into WC semis

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Wellington, March 21 (IANS) An incredible unbeaten knock of 237 from opener Martin Guptill fired New Zealand into the cricket World Cup semifinals with a massive 143-run victory over the West Indies at the Wellington Regional Stadium here on Saturday.

Powered by Guptill’s double century, the Black Caps posted a monumental 393/6 in 50 overs before bowling out the Windies for 250 with 19.3 overs to go.

The New Zealand innings had Guptill written all over it after captain Brendon McCullum (12) opted to bat. The right-hander broke several records with his sparkling knock which came in only 163 deliveries and included 24 boundaries and 11 sixes.

The 237 not out is now the highest individual World Cup score beating Chris Gayle’s 215 which came earlier in the tournament against Zimbabwe. It is also the second highest One-Day International (ODI) score after Rohit Sharma’s 264.

The 28-year-old from Auckland is the first New Zealander to score back-to-back Cup hundreds, following his 105 against Bangladesh in a Pool A game at Hamilton on March 13.

Guptill also broke the record of the highest ODI individual score by a New Zealander when he went past his own 189 not out which came two years ago against England at Southampton.

The double century helped the Black Caps post the highest World Cup knockout score, going past Australia’s 359/2 in the 2003 final against India.

All this came after Marlon Samuels dropped Guptill at square leg when he was batting at four.

Guptill’s innings was purely about clean hitting and no slog shots, not even in the death overs. His ability to score straight down the ground helped the co-hosts hammer 153 runs in the last 10 overs.

Ross Taylor (42), Kane Williamson (33) and Grant Elliot (27) also played significant cameos as Guptill went about his business.

The Windies bowlers did not have much to boast about as all went for more than six per over. Jerome Taylor (3/71) and Andre Russell (2/96) were the only ones to pick up wickets but both went for more than 9.6 runs per over.

Chasing the huge target, the two-time champions kept scoring at a high run rate of over eight per over. However, they lost wickets throughout their innings and no batsman rose up to play the anchor’s knock.

The only 50-plus partnership came during the third-wicket stand between Chris Gayle (61) and Marlon Samuels (27). The former smashed eight sixes and two boundaries in his 33-ball knock before being bowled by Adam Milne (1/42).

The only other notable contribution came from down the order from captain Jason Holder, who hit a 26-ball 42 which included five fours and two sixes.

The West Indies kept their record of never chasing down a 300 plus-target and have now lost all four matches played here.

New Zealand pacer Trent Boult was the pick of the bowlers as he notched fantastic figures of 10-3-44-4 to become the highest wicket-taker of the 2015 World Cup with 19 scalps. Other than Boult, all other Kiwi bowlers proved expensive, going for more than 8.9 per over.

New Zealand will now take on South Africa in the first semifinal at Eden Park, Auckland, on Tuesday.

Brief scores: New Zealand 393/6 in 50 overs (Martin Guptill 237 not out; Jerome Taylor 3/71) vs West Indies 250 in 30.3 overs (Chris Gayle 61, Jason Holder 42; Trent Boult 4/44).

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