Windies fire World Cup warning with dominant win over New Zealand

Windies fire World Cup warning with dominant win over New Zealand
By Reuters
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(Reuters) - West Indies posted an incredible total of 421 as their batsmen put on a superb display of power-hitting in a 91-run victory over New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up game on Tuesday.

Shai Hope continued his fine run of form as he finished with an 86-ball 101 with nine fours and four sixes, while Andre Russell lived up to his big-hitting reputation with a breezy 25-ball 54 as they sent a warning to Pakistan ahead of their World Cup opener on May 31.

"We're building towards something special in the World Cup so to get this momentum going into the first game against Pakistan is key," Windies captain Jason Holder said. "It's really good to see the batsmen make full use of the surface."

After New Zealand put West Indies into bat at Bristol, Chris Gayle began the attack with two fours and two sixes off four consecutive deliveries from fast bowler Matt Henry.

Gayle failed to convert his start when he was removed by fast bowler Trent Boult on 36 but Hope and Evin Lewis stitched together an 84-run stand to lay the foundations for a mammoth total.

Holder (47) and Russell added 82 runs in just 39 deliveries as West Indies continued to find boundaries, despite losing their final four wickets in the last six overs.

Boult was the pick of the bowlers with 4-50, but Henry ended up conceding 107 for his two wickets.

It was always going to be a daunting total for New Zealand to chase, but losing openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls with just 28 on the board left them with a near-impossible challenge.

Kane Williamson (85) and Tom Blundell (106) put on a brilliant 120-run stand but the rest of the Kiwis' middle order struggled to match the scoring rate as they were bowled out for 330.

Williamson, however, took positives from stand-in wicketkeeper-batsman Blundell's impressive innings amid injury concerns around first-choice Tom Latham.

"It was a fantastic knock coming in under a little bit of pressure in terms of 400 on the board and we were in a little bit of trouble," Williamson said.

"He's actually done it on a number of occasions for his domestic side.

"He obviously started well in test cricket but to come in and play that role where he sucked up a bit of pressure and counter-punched was a really good sign for us."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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