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Kiwis keep it calm, no need for fans to choke on breakfast

June 23, 2019
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New Zealand's Ross Taylor consoles West Indies' Carlos Brathwaite at the end of the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday, June 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Kane Williamson and his Black Caps are making a habit of leaving it really late to clinch their wins at the Cricket World Cup.

Perhaps they’re just making sure the people of New Zealand are paying attention to a run that has their team leading the standings.

A batting slide against Bangladesh made a two-wicket win more uncomfortable than it should have been. Then Williamson left it to the last over to hit a six and a four and reach a century as he got New Zealand across the line with three balls to spare against South Africa.

Against West Indies on Saturday, New Zealand had to bat first for the first time in the tournament. Different direction, similar ending.

Williamson hit another century, his ODI career-high 148, as New Zealand posted a competitive total of 291-8 at Old Trafford. Trent Boult took four wickets and West Indies seemed to be no chance of winning until Carlos Brathwaite came out and plundered 101 as he and three tailenders added 122 runs to get within six runs of victory.

Then Brathwaite tried to win it in one shot, when he had an over to spare, but miscued Jimmy Neesham out to Boult in the deep at long-on.

A five-run win is nervy stuff at the end of a day-nighter — particularly if you’re watching on TV on the other side of the world at breakfast time in New Zealand.

“It’s a bit special, to be honest. It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster,” Boult said. “It’s awesome to be a part of it. And I’m sure there will be a lot of proud Kiwis back home, diving into poached eggs, watching a result like that.”

New Zealand is unbeaten in six games — five wins and the washed-out game against India — and has three more to go in the league stage.

With 11 points, the 2015 runners-up have a one-point lead over defending champion Australia, are two ahead of India and three clear of England.

They still have Pakistan, Australia and England to play, so there’ll be some more tense moments before the semifinal stage.

For now, Williamson and co are content to be sharing around the contributions of wickets and runs, knowing they’re on a roll and have been using the same combination throughout.

Boult had taken four wickets through the first four completed games, and doubled his tournament tally with his 4-30 from 10 overs against West Indies. He also took the match-winning catch, and held the earlier catch to dismiss the dangerous Chris Gayle for 87 in the outfield. Matt Henry had taken seven wickets leading into the Manchester game, but got clobbered for 25 in the 48th over — including three sixes from Brathwaite — and finished with 1-76 from nine overs.

Williamson gave credit to the Windies for taking it right to the end, but said his team would take plenty out of it.

“It was a great game of cricket, good to be on the winning side,” he said. “It’s been a great learning curve for us.”

New Zealand has never won the Cricket World Cup, but has been a regular semifinalist and was the form team of the tournament it co-hosted with Australia in 2015 before losing the final to its trans-Tasman rival. Things are going well in England this time.

“Pretty proud ... nice to be on the right side of it, of course,” Boult said. “But it’s nice to be put under pressure like that with both facets of the game there, and I’m sure that will give us a little bit of confidence moving hopefully deeper into the tournament.”

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