New Zealand brush Ireland aside to go top

New Zealand joined defending champions Australia on eight points at the top of the World Cup Super Eights standings after beating Ireland by 129 runs on Monday.

New Zealand racked up 263-8 after a late innings rally of 45 runs from the last three overs, following Peter Fulton’s top score 83.

As the required run rate increased, Ireland lost their last seven wickets for 24 runs as they were bowled out for 134 with 12.2 overs remaining in the final World Cup match at the Providence Stadium.

Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori claimed 4-23 when he ran through the Irish tail. He had three lbws and finished the innings by bowling Kyle McCallan and trapping last man Boyd Rankin in front to be on a hat trick in his next match.

Ireland, now on the cusp of elimination, rarely threatened the Black Caps’ total despite an entertaining 49 off 45 balls from middle-order batsman Kevin O’Brien, who was eventually run out after a mix-up with his brother Niall.

With three matches left, the Black Caps are now almost assured one of the semifinal berths on eight points.

Ireland remain winless

Ireland remain winless from their three second stage Super Eight games so far and their task does not get any easier with Australia up next on Friday.

New Zealand’s victory did not appear so clear-cut at various stages of their innings when they slumped to 83 for three and later 189 for seven, with Ireland fielding athletically and bowling accurately for the most part.

Opener Fulton resisted Ireland with a steady 83 from 110 balls for his sixth one-day half-century with wickets falling around him.

Man-of-the-match Fulton eventually perished to the accurate off-spinner McCallan, who finished with two for 35 from his 10 overs.

It was left to the tail, though, to boost the Kiwis’ total. McCullum struck two fours and a six that smashed a window in a third-tier press box.

The Black Caps have now won their last nine one-day internationals and require one more victory to match their best win-streak.

The seven-week World Cup culminates with the final on April 28 in Barbados.
- Reuters

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