T20WC24: Rampant Rutherford takes WI into Super Eight; N/Zealand on the brink

“From the outside, we told our guys someone will have to play a blinder (because of how the pitch could be due to inclement weather),” said West Indies captain Rovman Powell. “We always believe individual brilliance is needed.”

Batter Sherfane Rutherford did not disappoint with a superb counter-attacking half-century while left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie claimed three wickets, to lead the West Indies to a 13-run win over New Zealand at Tarouba and clinch a place in the Super Eight stage of the ICC T20 World Cup.

West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford makes a tremendous innings against New Zealand in T20 World Cup action at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

West Indies recovered from 30 for 5 to post 149 for 9, with Rutherford slamming 68 not out from only 39 balls. The Maroon Men bowled superbly with pacer Alzarri Joseph and Motie sharing seven wickets to claim a place in the next round.

“I want to thank God for the opportunity,” said Rutherford, after his man of the match performance. “[…] 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: I think that was the key.”

The win puts New Zealand on the chopping block and sets up perfectly the Windies’ final match against Afghanistan on 17 June.

West Indies players (from left) Nicholas Pooran, Alzarri Joseph and Brandon King congratulate spinner Gukadesh Motie (hidden) during his spell against New Zealand in T20 World Cup action at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

A febrile atmosphere greeted the players as they entered the Brian Lara Cricket Academy for a virtual playoff match to decide which team would qualify out of Group C.

After former West Indies star Sunil Narine brought in the T20 World Cup trophy, the frenzy in the crowd reached fever pitch when calypso superstar David Rudder sang Rally Round the West Indies.

A deafening roar greeted the final notes of Rudder’s emotional performance but it would be the last for the next 45 minutes as the West Indies floundered on a sinister Tarouba pitch.

In a breathless start to the game, West Indies batsmen fell regularly playing aggressively on a pitch with variable bounce and pace that demanded more patience.

West Indies supporters cheer on their team in Tarouba, Trinidad during their ICC T20 World Cup clash with New Zealand on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Within the power play overs, the home team quickly fell into disarray at 23 for 4.

“We had an inkling that it was going to be tricky if you hit an area, and that proved to be the case,” said New Zealand captain Kate Williamson.

Tim Southee (2/21) removed Nicholas Pooran 17 and skipper Rovman Powell, while his strike partner Trent Boult accounted for Johnson Charles (0) and Andre Russell.

Enter Sherfane Rutherford…
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Rutherford entered the fray with wickets tumbling around and set about righting the ship with patience and tactical aggression.

“I was just telling myself to take it deep,” said Rutherford. “Me and [coach Daren] Sammy had a talk and I knew if we got momentum, I could make it up in the end.

“Looking at their bowling line-up, I knew they were short of two overs. I knew they had to make up those overs and I wanted to maximise it.”

West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford dispatches a delivery during ICC T20 World Cup action against New Zealand at Tarouba on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

West Indies were 112 for 9 in the 18th over before Rutherford turned the tables with 37 runs from the last 12 balls, which took his team to 149 for 9 in their 20-over allotment.

Rutherford, who sported the #68 jersey, ended with 68 not out off 39 balls with two fours and six sixes.

“That [Rutherford] innings gave us confidence and belief,” said Powell, who described the crowd support in Trinidad as “fantastic”. “We watched what they did well and tried to replicate it. Hard length was difficult [to get away].

West Indies captain Rovman Powell (right) and vice-captain Alzarri Joseph have a word during ICC T20 World Cup action against New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

 

“We sat down as a bowling length and decided to hit a hard length, with the spinners trying to spin the ball.”

New Zealand, still reeling from Rutherford’s soul-sapping onslaught, lost Devon Conway (5) early to Akeal Hosein.

The Kiwis lost six batsmen to spin during their 84-run loss to Afghanistan and Motie’s introduction proved vital to turn the fortunes of the match.

West Indies spinner Gukadesh Motie bowls against New Zealand during their ICC T20 World Cup clash at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

The left-arm spinner accounted for Williamson (1) with his fourth ball and took two more wickets in his next 13 balls.

Motie’s delivery to bowl Darryl Mitchell (12) was world-class, pitching on middle and turning venomously to knock back the off stump. Mitchell shook his head in disbelief as he walked back to the dugout.

More head-shaking and handwringing followed as Joseph cleaved through the Kiwis’ middle order in one of his finest spells in a West Indies shirt.

West Indies spinner Gudakesh Motie (centre) is congratulated by teammate Akeal Hosein during ICC T20 World Cup action against New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: ICC

The Antiguan took 4 for 9 in his four overs, to put New Zealand on a downward spiral, while Motie had 3 for 25.

Glenn Phillips hit 40 off 33 balls and Mitchell Santner clobbered 21 not out off 12 balls, including 19 runs off the last over bowled by Romario Shepherd—but the West Indies did enough to close out the win by 13 runs.

West Indies are at the top of Group B with three wins from three games. New Zealand are without a point after two games.

New Zealand allrounder Mitchell Santner smashes a boundary during ICC T20 World Cup action against West Indies at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Powell’s men battle Afghanistan on Monday in St Kitts, while New Zealand takes on Uganda on Friday at Tarouba.

“It is one tick in the box,” said Rutherford, on West Indies’ progress to the stage, “but it is only the start of something big to come. Hopefully we can continue the momentum.”

Summarised scores

Toss: New Zealand

West Indies: 149 for 9 (Sherfane Rutherford 68*, Nicholas Pooran 17, Akeal Hosein 15; Trent Boult 3/16)

New Zealand: 136 for 9 (Glenn Phillips 40, Finn Allen 26, Mitchell Santner 21*; Alzarri Joseph 4/19, Gudakesh Motie 3/25)

Player-of-the-Match: Sherfane Rutherford

Result: West Indies win by 13 runs

West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford gets stuck in during T20 World Cup action against New Zealand at Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

(Teams)

West Indies: Brandon King, Johnson Charles, Nicholas Pooran (wicketkeeper), Roston Chase, Rovman Powell (captain), Sherfane Rutherford, Andre Russell, Romario Shepherd, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie

New Zealand: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wicketkeeper), Kane Williamson (captain), Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Rachin Ravindra, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

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