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T20 WC 2024: Rutherford credits work during IPL after powering West Indies into Super Eights with win over NZ

West Indies knocked former runners-up and last edition's semifinalist New Zealand out of the T20 World Cup 2024 with a 13-run victory in their Group C match on Thursday in Tarouba.

T20 WC 2024: Rutherford credits work during IPL after powering West Indies into Super Eights with win over NZ snt
First Published Jun 13, 2024, 11:21 AM IST

Sherfane Rutherford hit a career-best unbeaten half-century, leading the West Indies to a 13-run victory over New Zealand and securing their spot in the T20 World Cup's Super Eight stage on Thursday in Tarouba. Following Rutherford's stellar performance, pacer Alzarri Joseph and left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie decimated the New Zealand line-up to seal the win.

Sherfane Rutherford delivered the innings of his life, smashing six sixes and two fours in a 39-ball 68 to propel the West Indies from a precarious 76 for 7 in 12.3 overs to a competitive 149 for 9, after New Zealand chose to bowl in a decisive Group C match.

In response, West Indies limited the Kiwis to 136 for 9, with Rutherford's fellow Guyanese, Gudakesh Motie, delivering impressive figures of 3/25. Alzarri Joseph was the chief destroyer, wreaking havoc lower down the order with his 4/19.

This victory marked West Indies' third consecutive win, securing their place in the Super Eight stage of the tournament. Meanwhile, New Zealand's chances were effectively dashed following two consecutive defeats. They had previously lost to Afghanistan by 84 runs, bowled out for a mere 75. The 2021 runners-up, typically one of the most consistent World Cup teams, struggled this time.

New Zealand had reached the semi-finals in the 2015, 2019, and 2023 editions of the ODI World Cup, and in the 2016, 2021, and 2022 T20 World Cups, they made it to the last four. However, this year has been disappointing for them.

Despite it being half past midnight in Trinidad, the locals celebrated joyfully as their team advanced to the Super Eight stage, lifting the spirits dampened by recent setbacks. The two-time former champions had been eliminated in the Super-12 stage in the UAE in 2021 and failed to progress past the group stage in Australia in 2022.

"It was fantastic. I was sitting there with Nicholas (Pooran) and it was such a beautiful night for someone to stand up and be counted," skipper Rovman Powell said. "That (Rutherford) innings gave us confidence and belief. We watched what they did well and tried to replicate it."

Meanwhile, Rutherford expressed joy over the win and said, "It is one tick in the box, but it is only the start of something big to come. Hopefully we can continue the momentum."

The West Indian further spoke about how his two-month stint with IPL 2024 champions Kolkata Knight Riders helped him prep for the grand event. "I was in the IPL for two months, so I was preparing, even though I was not playing. I did a lot of work and did my planning. Keeping it simple and backing my skill," he added.

Williamson made three changes to the lineup following their convincing defeat by Afghanistan. Trent Boult set the tone early by dismissing Johnson Charles (0) in the first over, forcing the opener to chop onto his stumps. Boult's brilliant spell yielded figures of 4-1-16-3.

Nicholas Pooran, despite some luck, hit three quick boundaries to become the West Indies' highest T20I run-scorer, surpassing Chris Gayle. However, New Zealand gained the upper hand as Pooran (17) and Roston Chase (0) both top-edged to fielders in successive overs.

The dismissal of captain Rovman Powell capped a dominant powerplay for the Kiwis, leaving West Indies at 23/4 after six overs, with Tim Southee (2/21) taking two wickets. The situation worsened when opener Brandon King was dismissed by James Neesham (1/27), and half of the West Indies' side was back in the dugout by the seventh over.

However, Rutherford had other plans, playing one of the best innings of his career. The 25-year-old Guyanese all-rounder anchored the innings before accelerating in the final five overs, hitting five fours and two sixes. He brought up his 50 off the final ball of the 19th over, scoring 18 runs in that over alone and leaving Mitchell Santner puzzled.

Rutherford scored all 37 runs in the closing partnership with Motie, setting a new 10th wicket record in ICC T20 World Cup history. This lifted West Indies to a total of 149 for 9.

In reply, New Zealand started poorly, losing both openers -- Devon Conway (5) and Finn Allen (26) -- in the powerplay. Left-arm spinner Motie then bamboozled the Kiwi batters with a spell of 4-0-25-3, while Joseph wrapped up the innings with a four-wicket haul.

Motie removed Rachin Ravindra, who flicked straight to Russell at deep mid-wicket, and induced a faint edge from Williamson, caught by Pooran. Glenn Phillips kept New Zealand's hopes alive with a 33-ball 40 but was eventually dismissed by Joseph.

Needing 33 runs from the final over, Mitchell Santner smashed three sixes off the first four balls but New Zealand ultimately fell short, sealing West Indies' victory.

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