Wellington was hosting its final game of the ICC cricket world cup today – the last quarterfinal. The previous three had been decided on Wednesday (South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets in Sydney), Thursday (India beat Bangladesh by 109 runs in Melbourne), and Friday (Australia beat Pakistan by 6 wickets in Adelaide). New Zealand faced the West Indies at the Wellington Regional Stadium (formerly Westpac stadium), with a 2pm start for a day-night game.
2pm start, you say? Why, that’s just enough time to go for a cricket long lunch at one of our favoured Wellington venues. First up, we thought we’d give Mariluca a try – hadn’t been there before, looks good. “No, we’re not open on Saturday lunchtime” came the reply. Odd, as they’re participating in the promotion. Next, I thought Trade Kitchen would be a good idea, but Nicola didn’t fancy their menu much. We finally settled on Zibibbo, about whom I so often say “the most under-rated restaurant in Wellington”…and yes, they were happy to accommodate us.
We parked up close to the stadium, then walked back into town along the seafront, to get our lunch. It was lovely: paua tortellini to start:
Followed by lamb on crushed potatoes:
And finished with pavlova:
Menus don’t get more Kiwi than this. Surprisingly, we were the only people taking advantage of this offer, although there was a large party downstairs in the bistro/bar area. As always, the food was delicious, and we left happy for the walk up to the stadium.
Enough of this fine dining already…time to head to the match. We made it through the scrum that is the bag check and found our seats with about 10 minutes to spare, and settled in to watch.
New Zealand had won the toss and decided to bat. Captain McCullum came out to bat in his usual style, blazing away from the start. Unfortunately he was out on 12, and at 27/1 the Black Caps needed to calm down a bit. Which they duly did, and Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson put on another 52 before Williamson holed out to Chris Gayle, after a bit of a juggle. In came Ross Taylor, and then things really started to happen. Guptill made a somewhat cautious 100 off 111 deliveries, but then started to let rip; and with Taylor taking a back seat, supporting role, they made a partnership of 143. Guptill regularly put the ball into the crowd (and at one point out of the stadium). Despite losing Taylor, he was ably supported again by Anderson, Elliot and Ronchi as he made 237 from 163 balls, carrying his bat and setting a World Cup record, and the second-highest ODI score ever. New Zealand finished on 393.
What do you do about that, if you’re the West Indies? You need almost 8 an over from the get-go. Their response was to put Chris Gayle in to open, and he dismissed the fast bowlers with disdain. He was clearly in pain from his back injury, and was definitely not keen on running between the wickets. He didn’t need to much, as with a flick of the wrist he dispatched the ball to the boundary time after time, usually as a six. He reached 50 quickly (a total that included 2 singles – all the other scoring shots were boundaries), but lost 4 partners along the way - including a spectacular one-handed catch by Daniel Vettori on the boundary. And this was their downfall; whilst they continually put pressure on the Black Caps bowlers and kept up with the run rate, wickets continued to fall, and once Gayle was bowled by Milne for 61 (8 sixes, 2 fours), the end was inevitable. The lower order continued to bat valiantly, but an inability to build a significant partnership despite scoring better than the top-order batsmen undid them, and the final one went as the Windies reached 250, giving New Zealand the victory by 143 runs.
On Tuesday, The Black Caps face South Africa in Auckland. On this form, the Proteas should be quaking in their boots.