Cricket: Jacobs warms West Indies

New Zealand 156 West Indies 158-3 W Indies win by seven wkts
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The Independent Online
HAVING CAUGHT a cold against Pakistan, then caught Bangladesh colder in Dublin, West Indies caught out New Zealand in every sense to improve their prospects of qualifying from Group B. Holding 10 catches as the white ball seamed and swung all over the place on a cold and cloudy morning enabled them to shunt out the Kiwis for 156, two runs fewer than their previous lowest in a World Cup game, which was against the same opposition at The Oval in the 1975 semi-final.

Ridley Jacobs claimed five dismissals behind the stumps to equal the record in limited-overs internationals, then earned the man of the match award by contributing an assured 80 not out as West Indies made the most of improved batting conditions. His third-wicket partnership of 72 in 15 overs with Brian Lara (36) after both openers had gone cheaply set up a victory that means Sunday's set-to with Australia at Old Trafford will decide which teams accompany Pakistan into the Super Six.

New Zealand should still make it, but if they fail to beat Pakistan, and West Indies lose on Sunday, yesterday's combatants and Australia are likely to finish level on points, having all beaten each other. Run-rate would then decide, and any maths students not revising for their A levels by working out the Duckworth/Lewis method could usefully spend hours deciphering the decimals. Bowling out New Zealand so cheaply helped West Indies' cause significantly, as to a lesser extent did their batting, enabling Lara to claim with some justification: "Things are looking better and we're getting into it. We've got a platform to work from and I think we still have better to come. The bowlers bowled pretty well and it's nice to see the bowling coming together. It's tough batting against the white ball but if you hang in there it gets easier. It's definitely a big match on Sunday."

With Curtly Ambrose returning, the old firm were back in business and unlike the opening game against Pakistan, the Antiguan did the business as effectively as his partner, Courtney Walsh. Ambrose reeled off 10 overs for 19 runs, undermining the innings almost before it had begun by having Nathan Astle caught behind in the first of them. Poor Astle has now managed 11 runs in three knocks and will remember this competition with about as much affection as Jeff Astle does the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Walsh rested after five almost equally rapid overs, having lured Matthew Horne into a poor shot to mid-on, but there was no respite for the batsmen who followed - in quick succession. Reon King again took wickets at an economical rate as well as striking Craig McMillan a fearful blow just above the ear. McMillan, who had already suggested true grit by turning out in a short-sleeved shirt, confirmed it by carrying on to make the top score of 32.

Only during a seventh-wicket stand of 50 in 10 overs between Adam Parore and Chris Harris did the overall run-rate reach three an over. Mervyn Dillon bore the brunt, but eventually dismissed both men to finish with flattering figures of 4 for 46, all his victims swishing to leg in the increasingly desperate chase for runs. Even the number of wides diminished to a mere 13.

New Zealand's catching was less sharp. In the gully McMillan still looked dazed and confused when he put down Jimmy Adams shortly after Sherwin Campbell had departed leg-before. That represented a missed opportunity to pressure the opposition, but did not prove as costly as it might have been. Adams, laying anchor, found the weight dragging him down and made only three off 29 balls.

Lara's arrival enlivened matters with a pulled three off the mark followed by six over long-on from the hitherto stingy Gavin Larsen. It was Harris, trundling round the wicket to the two left-handers, who eventually saw off the captain - a well-judged running catch by Nash - but Chris Cairns had no such luck. Even the winning runs, by Stuart Williams with almost six overs to spare, came from another outside edge off him.