If the West Indies were looking for a kind or reassuring word ahead of Saturday's match against New Zealand, it wasn't forthcoming from two-time World Cup-winning captain Clive Lloyd. The West Indies great criticized the approach Jason Holder's team took against Bangladesh, which chased down 322 with eight overs to spare in Taunton on Monday.
"It would appear that they only have one way to play with no variation to their game plan," Lloyd said in a column for the International Cricket Council. "They are trying to blast people out and I don't think they understand the English conditions ... it is poor cricket by the West Indies."
The way the Windies bounced out Pakistan for 105 and had Australia reeling at 87-5 in their first two games excited cricket lovers, raising expectations a big pace quartet could emulate the domination of the Caribbean fast bowlers from Lloyd's era.
But since letting defending champion Australia off the hook at Trent Bridge on June 6, the West Indies have had a wash out against South Africa, and losses to host England and Bangladesh. New Zealand won games against Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and split the points with No. 2-ranked India after a washout, before the close encounter with South Africa.
New Zealand went into the last over at 234-6 after losing a key wicket and chasing 242 for victory. Andile Phehlukwayo's first ball was sent for a single by Mitchell Santner, sensibly giving Williamson the strike, and the New Zealand captain did the rest with a powerful six to reach his hundred and level the scores followed by a boundary to seal it.
He finished 106 not out off 138 balls. "There's a huge amount to learn from this performance," Williamson said, "The experiences that you have by being put under pressure on a number of different occasions, whether it's with the bat or the ball, having close games in tournaments like the World Cup are great to be a part of, especially when you come out on the right side of things."
Lloyd said the West Indies could "benefit from learning a thing or two from Williamson." "They have themselves to blame if they miss the semifinals," Lloyd said. "They should have beaten Australia and they definitely should have seen off Bangladesh as well. But the Bangladesh side did their homework and deserved their victory."
New Zealand, which lost the final to Australia in 2015, has a well-balanced lineup but has only been pushed to the limit once so far in the tournament. Matt Henry and Trent Boult take the new ball, backed up by paceman Lockie Ferguson and Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham or Santner. The batting lineup has been stable, with Martin Guptill and Colin Munro at the top, followed by Williams, ex-captain Ross Taylor and Tom Latham.
West Indies has been relying on pace but opposing teams have adjusted to the tendency to over-use the short ball. All-rounder Andre Russell has been struggling with knee injuries, leaving more overs to share between Sheldon Cottrell, Holder, Oshane Thomas and Shannon Gabriel, and Chris Gayle to chime in with his spin.
The 39-year-old Gayle is due for a big innings, having opened the tournament with a half century against Pakistan but failed with a duck against Bangladesh. This is Gayle's last World Cup, and the self-described "Universe-Boss" won't want it to be effectively all over at Old Trafford.
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