Quarter Final 1 – 2:30 AEST on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at Westpac Stadium
New Zealand – $1.30 to win at www.Luxbet.com
West Indies – $3.75 to win at Sportsbet
New Zealand will look to extend their dream run into the final four as they take on a rather uninspiring West Indies outfit at Wellington in the last of the 2015 ICC World Cup quarterfinals.
The Kiwis were considered dark horses ahead of the tournament, on the back of some excellent form in both Tests and One Day Internationals over the last 12 months. A big warm-up win over South Africa confirmed the hosts as every punter’s smokey du jour.
Now, as we enter the knockout rounds, NZ stand alongside India as the most impressive team in the competition. They won all six pool games to top Group A in style ahead of World Cup favourites Australia, who succumbed to their fellow co-hosts in a thrilling wicket-fest at Eden Park.
Bowling coach Shane Bond deserves much of the credit. The former Kiwi quick has played an enormous part in transforming the New Zealand attack from a rag-tag bunch of cut-rate medium pacers into a lethal strike unit with the speed, skills and stamina to trouble any international batting lineup.
Trent Boult (15 wickets) and Tim Southee (13 wickets) have led the line with aplomb, the latter backing up from a stellar 2011 World Cup where he finished third in the bowling charts with 18 wickets. They have been extremely well supported by Corey Anderson (10 wickets) and especially Daniel Vettori (13 wickets), whose economy rate of 3.21 across 55 overs is lightyears ahead of any other established bowler in the tournament.
With the willow, the top three of Martin Guptill (261 runs), Brendon McCullum (257 runs) and Kane Williamson (183 runs) are the only NZ batsmen who have spent any quality time at the crease. All-rounder Anderson (158 runs) has contributed with some heavy hitting at number six, but the likes of Grant Elliott, Ross Taylor and wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi have yet to really find their feet.
That underdone middle-order is where the West Indies could expose their more fancied opponents. The question is whether they possess the firepower and discipline to get past McCullum and Co. first.
Jerome Taylor has stood out among the Windies quicks with 14 World Cup wickets, including a superb 3 for 15 in the 150-run win over Pakistan. However, Taylor’s tournament economy rate of 5.08 sums up his side’s biggest problem: they give up far too many easy runs.
It has cost them dearly at times. South Africa took full advantage, captain AB de Villiers carting 162 off just 66 balls on the way to an innings total of 408 at the SCG. The only West Indian bowler who managed to keep the Proteas to less than seven runs an over was Chris Gayle with sterling figures of four overs, no wickets for 21.
And it’s not just the big boys who have pushed the Caribbean crew around the playground. In their opening group game, that most fearsome cricketing nation of Ireland found the going similarly easy as they chased down 304 with four wickets and as many overs to spare.
But we can’t lump all the blame on the bowlers. Darren Bravo’s tournament-ending hamstring injury has left the Windies’ batting stocks almost comically thin, with far too much reliance on Gayle and the enigmatic Marlon Samuels. With all due respect to Denesh Ramdin, the fact the wicketkeeper (who averages 25.14 in ODI cricket) is coming in at number five should highlight just how dire the situation is.
When they’re on, the West Indies can produce some scintillating cricket – Gayle’s stunning 215 against Zimbabwe is testament to that – but those performances have been too few and too far between. They limped into fourth spot in Group B with a comfortable win over the United Arab Emirates, and Darren Sammy admitted the two-time World Cup winners would need to lift their game in a big way if they were to compete with the in-form Kiwis.
“We’re not supposed to be here. We have not played our best cricket,” the former West Indies captain told the press on Wednesday. “We have been so inconsistent but we are still in the quarterfinals.
“If we put all the good things we know we can do right then no team will beat us. And the other teams know that as well.”
Sammy went as far as to compare New Zealand to former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson – a dubious tag for a nation which has been the perennial underdog for most of its time in world cricket.
“It’s a big match, and I remember some guy named [Buster] Douglas beating Mike Tyson, so it’s the case of that on Saturday,” the all-rounder said.
“It’s the business end so you can win all your pool matches and come in the knockout there is no guarantee you will win.
“You turn up on the day and the guys know what is at stake and we are doing everything in our powers to beat Mike Tyson.”
Injury and team news
– Adam Milne looks likely to return to the New Zealand XI after missing the closing group game against Bangladesh with a shoulder injury. The 22-year-old is the Kiwis’ quickest bowler – he regularly passed the 150 km/h mark in the win over Australia – and should replace Mitchell McClenaghan, who failed to strike against the Tigers.
– The West Indies’ long list of concerns grew by one over the weekend as Chris Gayle’s bad back force him out of the final pool game against the UAE. The 35-year-old opener underwent scans and received a cortisone injection on Wednesday, and the Windies are adamant their main man will be right to face NZ in Wellington.
Possible team selections
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (C), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Adam Milne
West Indies: Jason Holder (C), Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Jonathan Carter, Denesh Ramdin, Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach
Match betting predictions
Result: New Zealand to win – $1.30 at CrownBet
Team of top batsman: New Zealand – $1.91 at Sportsbet.com.au
Highest first 15 overs: New Zealand – $1.53 at William Hill Australia
The hosts are the clear favourites to win through to the semis, and are worth a look in just about every World Cup quarterfinal betting market. Definitely get on NZ to win the match, which is paying around $1.30 at most Australian bookmakers. Also keep an eye on the result of the toss, as some of those batting markets (highest opening partnership, hundred to be scored, etc.) will look a lot more attractive if the Kiwis bat first and get the chance to post a big score.
Top run-scorer tips
Brendon McCullum ($4.00 at Bet365.com.au)
The Kiwi skipper has been as consistent as anyone in World Cup 2015 with four half-centuries in six games, and you get the feeling a really big score isn’t far away. A hard-hitting opener who plays much the same way whether batting first or chasing a total, McCullum is excellent value at $4.
Martin Guptill ($5.00 at Luxbet)
Despite being New Zealand’s top scorer in the league phase, Guptill hasn’t drawn quite the same level of attention as McCullum or Williamson. The 28-year-old opener comes into the quarterfinals on the back of a match-winning 105 against Bangladesh, so he should feel confident against a West Indian front line which has haemorrhaged runs throughout the tourney.
Chris Gayle $4.00
A record-breaking double century against Zimbabwe has masked an otherwise disappointing tournament for Gayle, whose four other group-stage innings yielded just 64 runs between them. Still, out of touch and pepped up on cortisone though he is, the Master Blaster is far and away your best bet in the West Indies batting stakes.
Yes, this is the smokiest of smokey bets, but there’s a method to this madness. The ever-improving West Indies ODI captain scored back-to-back 50s against South Africa and India in his only two real innings thus far (he faced two balls for an unbeaten zero against Ireland). If the Windies’ wafer-thin batting lineup should crumble, Holder is the most likely to stand up and make a contest of it.
Top wicket-taker picks
Tim Southee ($4.00 at Bet 365)
Although he has played second fiddle to Boult over the course of the group stage, it is Southee who has the wickets on the board at Wellington. He snared 7 for 33 against England on his last outing at the Westpac, and would fancy his chances here against a brittle West Indies batting order.
Anderson hasn’t bowled a lot of overs in this tournament, and he is unlikely to get a full 10 on Saturday. Nevertheless, the all-rounder has pocketed 10 precious wickets at a strike rate of 16.3 – a figure bettered only by Mitchell Starc among the top World Cup wicket-takers. At $7, this is as good a roughy bet as you’ll find.
Although his 14 World Cup wickets have come at a pretty hefty price, Taylor has emerged as the most dangerous of the West Indies’ fast bowling brigade. With the exception of the South Africa debacle, the 30-year-old has taken two or more wickets in every game so far.
Andre Russell ($6.00 at William Hill)
As with Taylor, Russell’s wickets haven’t always come cheap. However, the all-rounder regularly produced the goods against the more established teams in Group B (3 for 33 against Pakistan, 2 for 74 against South Africa, 2 for 43 against India), which makes him a solid choice even if the Windies get flogged.