Wellington | Martin Guptill today bludgeoned his way to the record books with the highest individual World Cup knock as New Zealand rode on the opener’s swashbuckling unbeaten 237 to crush West Indies by 143 runs and sail into the semifinals of the mega event here.
Batting first in the fourth quarterfinal game, New Zealand notched up an imposing 393 for six, then bowled out West Indies for 250 in 30.3 overs to set up a blockbuster last-four clash with an in-form South Africa at Auckland on March 24.
For the record, this was heaviest defeat suffered by any team in terms of runs in the knockout rounds of World Cup.
Guptill scored his runs off 163 balls, becoming the first New Zealander to post a double century in ODIs and the fifth in the world. He was unbeaten when the innings ended.
As he smacked Andre Russell to get to the coveted landmark, Chris Gayle, the only other double centurion in World Cup, came and congratulated Guptill at the Westpac stadium.
Reaching his 100 off 111, the last 52 balls brought Guptill a staggering 137 runs.
He smashed 24 fours and 11 sixes after New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum opted to bat.
Such was Guptill’s onslaught that the hosts reached from 300 to 350 in just 16 balls. The batsman got to his double ton off 152 balls with the help of 21 fours and eight sixes.
Earlier luck was on Guptill’s side as Marlon Samuels couldn’t hold on to a low chance at short-leg in the third ball of the innings bowled by Jerome Taylor. He was on 4 at that time.
There was, however, no looking back after that reprieve as Guptill anchored the innings with the others playing around him with a mix of caution and aggression.
While skipper Brendon McCullum, the dangerman in the Kiwi line-up, perished early, Guptill held the innings together and added 62 runs for the second wicket with Kane Williamson (33).
After getting his eye in, Williamson was lured into going for a false shot by Andre Russell’s slower delivery, bringing in Taylor to the crease.
While the West Indies captain Jason Holder tried different bowling options, the two experienced Kiwi batsmen looked at ease milking runs during a third-wicket partnership that yielded the Black Caps 143 runs in 22.3 overs.
After getting to his seventh ODI century with a single to long-on, Guptill upped the ante and smashed the West Indies to all parts of the ground. .
The 28-year-old launched into Darren Sammy for a massive six to start the onslaught, collected two fours and a six off Taylor, and kept finding the ropes against the likes of Holder and Suleiman Benn to reach his 150 off 135 balls.
What set Guptill’s knock apart in the age of slam bang hitting was that he scored his runs playing orthodox cricketing shots, and that at a good rate.
Just before that, Taylor (42) was run out owing to a misunderstanding, but the batsman did not seem to mind with Guptill in such fine fettle. Taylor found the fence two times during his 61-ball knock.
Meanwhile, Guptill smashed 27 runs in the 45th over bowled by Holder, clobbering the medium pacer for three sixes and a boundary.
The first of the three maximums helped him go past Glenn Turner as the highest scorer in World Cup match by a New Zealander. Turner had scored 171 against East Africa in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1975.
Guptill then picked up 18 off Russell to propel New Zealand to 328 for four. The last over went for 20 with Guptill hitting two more sixes and a four. Before that, Taylor seventh and the innings’ 49th over gave New Zealand 16 runs.
Of all the West Indies bowlers, Russell was the worst sufferer conceding 96 runs in 10 overs, while Holder went for 76 in eight and Taylor 71 in three.
The West Indies were never in the chase and kept losing wickets at regular intervals to gift away the game rather tamely to the home team that looks determined to go all the way this time around.
It needed a miracle from the big-hitting Chris Gayle, who blazed his way to 33-ball 61 with the help of eight sixes and two fours, but that was far from enough.
Holder blasted 42 off 26 balls with five fours and two sixes before becoming the last man to get out, sparking off wild celebrations among the Kiwi players and in the stands.
The visiting side maintained a rollicking run-rate but failed to survive long enough to make a match of it.
Interestingly, the West Indies have hit more sixes – 16 – during their failed chase that was scuttled with almost 20 overs remaining. New Zealand had managed to strike 15 sixes, including 11 from Guptill’s blade, during their entire innings.
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