‘He timed it beautifully and got his match-up’ – Williamson and Powell laud Rutherford

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Sherfane Rutherford’s unbeaten 68 off 39 balls on a two-paced Trinidad pitch proved the difference between West Indies and New Zealand at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.

This was the assessment of both captains Rovman Powell and Kane Williamson after West Indies successfully defended 149 to progress to the Super Eight.

Rutherford came into bat when West Indies were 22 for 4 inside the powerplay. It was only the second time that he was facing a ball in the powerplay, in 15 T20Is. He responded with a career-best effort that not only repaired the collapse but also put West Indies in a position of strength.

“We told the guys that somebody has to play a blinder,” Powell said after the match. “It wasn’t going to be an easy wicket because of the inclement weather. We always believe that individual brilliance in T20 cricket is needed some time and Sherfane’s innings was a fantastic knock. It gave us confidence and at the halfway mark, we believed [we could win].”

After working his way to 31 off 27 balls, Rutherford took Daryl Mitchell for a trio of sixes in the 19th over, which cost New Zealand 19 runs. Then, in the final over, he aced his match-up against left-arm fingerspinner Mitchell Santner, dispatching him for two fours and six.

“The margins in the match are fine and in conditions like that, two or three balls where the match-up suits, that can be the difference, Williamson said at his post-match press conference. We saw a fantastic knock from Rutherford and he certainly timed it beautifully and got his match-up. I think at the end of the day, that was the difference.”

Rutherford was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders side that had won IPL 2024, but he didn’t get a game in India. Despite the lack of game time in the IPL, West Indies’ team management picked him ahead of Shimron Hetmyer, who was a more regular presence for Rajasthan Royals.

Rutherford hit the ground running with an unbeaten 47 off 18 balls in the warm-up game, albeit against an undermanned Australia side, in Port-of-Spain.

Sherfane Rutherford helped West Indies tick along through the middle overs•Jun 12, 2024•Getty Images

He repaid the faith with a more impactful knock against an experienced New Zealand attack that saw the reunion of Tim Southee with Trent Boult.

According to ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats, which are designed to bring out the true value of individual performances in T20 cricket, Rutherford’s 68 was worth nearly 100.

“I was in the IPL for two months, so you know I was preparing [there] even though I wasn’t playing,” Rutherford said. “I did a lot of work and planning. Keeping it simple and backing myself – that was the key.

“I was just telling myself to take it deep. Me and [Daren] Sammy had a talk and he said: ‘try and take it deep’. The deeper I went, I started feeling momentum and I thought I could always make up in the end.” (ESPNcricinfo)

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