The New Zealand cricketers have missed the semi-finals of the World T20 after losing their second Super Eights match at the tournament via a super over.
The New Zealand campaign showed promise, opening with a win over Bangladesh, but never fulfilled its potential. They competed but faltered at crucial moments, ultimately leading to four straight losses to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies.
It represents the third straight World T20 where New Zealand has missed the top four. There is a perception the nation's cricketers are suited best to the most abbreviated format. On the basis of those performances at the top level there is little supporting evidence.
As entertainment, this morning's finale was gripping. It culminated in Doug Bracewell's run out via direct hit by replacement fielder Dwayne Smith. Bracewell raced for what looked a feasible two to deep mid-wicket off the last ball of the innings. The super over ensued.
New Zealand posted 17 runs in their One1 contest. The West Indies replied with 19 off five balls, led by a Chris Gayle six deep into the stands off Tim Southee's first ball; a no ball. It was like the team vehicle suddenly got four flat tyres; all the pressure was gone and they were a sitting target.
Southee was the right bowler to take the super over. Those five balls contrasted with the incident that had New Zealand as early favourites. Southee put some bowling bait just outside off stump, Gayle nibbled and the ball stuck in Brendon McCullum's gloves. Gayle departed with 30 from 14 balls; the West Indies teetered at 61 for three after 6.2 overs. New Zealand dominated from there, dismissing the West Indies for 139 in the 20th over.
The Gayle wicket had the New Zealand XI erupting with euphoria. The generally taciturn Southee whooped. McCullum joyfully propelled the ball into the air. The remaining nine fielders converged in a state of delight. They knew the significance so happy days... or so it seemed.
It was significant for Southee. He responded with determination to the none-for-32 pounding he received from two overs against England. He took three for 21 and, as a consequence, the team didn't require his customary death bowling expertise in the same measure. Sadly, he couldn't summon the same mojo later.
Nathan McCullum produced another key moment in the West Indies innings. Marlon Samuels kept the run rate bubbling along at well over eight-an-over post-Gayle. After 10.3 overs, McCullum gestured to Southee at wide long on to move straighter by 30 metres. Cue the ball going straight into Southee's reverse cupped hands and Samuels dismissed for 24. It would have been six had McCullum not insisted on the change. The West Indies only managed 51 runs from their last nine overs; however, that proved enough.
New Zealand never convinced with the bat. Regular wickets and hesitant strokes always kept the total distant. Ross Taylor played his innings of the tournament with 62 off 40 balls. He seldom lacks for composure in tight batting situations and is probably the best in the team in that regard. The captain was instrumental in his side contesting for the tie, given the havoc wreaked by West Indian spinner Sunil Narine. After lacking potency all tournament, Narine finally produced the type of display which dominated New Zealand earlier in the year and took his Kolkata Knight Riders to the Indian Premier League title. He took three for 20, the definitive spell of the match.
Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum and James Franklin started and faltered. Jacob Oram and Nathan McCullum could not swing the momentum and Bracewell played a sensible shot which looked like two runs off the last ball but suffered the wrath of Smith's laser beam arm.
New Zealand was not helped by the late scratching of Daniel Vettori with a sore Achilles tendon. Roneel Hira was his replacement. He settled into a rhythm and took one for 24 but Vettori's experience would have been handy on such a key night.