Kemar Roach lifted the spirits on a dank day of World Cup action by becoming the sixth bowler to claim a World Cup hat-trick as West Indies cruised past a disappointing Netherlands outfit in Delhi.
Roach's whippet pace and low trajectory overwhelmed Netherlands who, set 331 for victory, were left to regret their captain's decision to field first. He finished the game in style, trapping Pieter Seelaar and Bernard Loots lbw before splattering Berend Westdijk's middle stump to seal a 215-run victory.
After the World Cup found its voice in a nerve-shattering encounter on Sunday evening it reverted to an inaudible mumble on Monday as Canada capitulated against Zimbabwe in Nagpur, before Netherlands put up an embarrassing showing. Gone was the intensity and discipline that spooked England as they allowed West Indies to saunter to victory with more than 18 overs left unused.
This was an important match for West Indies who, coming into it, looked in danger of being drawn into a qualification dogfight in Group B. If they are to beat Bangladesh to the quarters they need their big guns to fire and they would have been relieved that Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard found their form before Roach's heroics.
It was only a composed but futile 55 not out from Tom Cooper that dragged Netherlands past their lowest-ever ODI total - 80 against West Indies four years ago - in a showing that did themselves, and the beleaguered Associate brand, a total disservice.
Roach operated consistently around the 90mph mark and was happy to aim full at the stumps - a tactic shunned by England's bowlers against the same opposition - and Netherlands' batsmen were not up for a fight.
Though he took six wickets, the crucial, crushing blow was landed by towering left-arm-spinner Sulieman Benn. Ryan ten Doeschate, the hero against England and the sole player in the side with the quality to mount a challenge, was trapped low on the front pad and despite a long stride, and a review, he could not survive. Thereafter it was only Cooper who could resist Roach's pace.
The rot was set earlier in the day when Gayle made a measured 80 and Pollard a 27-ball 60 that carried West Indies out of sight. Pollard blended his immense power with the touch of savvy that has been absent from his 50-over game so far to bring up only his second ODI fifty. His assault gave a crowd deprived of much excitement something to cheer and emphatically confirmed that Borren's decision to field first on a pudding pitch and speedy outfield was the wrong one.
Devon Smith's silky fifty allowed Gayle plenty of time to rouse himself into the contest. At no stage were West Indies pinned down but it did take Gayle 24 deliveries to find the boundary. ten Doeschate's first over shattered his shackles as he drove three times through the covers, before collecting two more boundaries in the next over. He looked poised to explode from thereon but was instead content to coast and make the most of some generous Netherlands offerings.
The seam bowlers leaked runs both sides of the wicket and it was only the 23-year-old left-arm-spinner Pieter Seelaar who impressed. With an action and temperament similar to his touted Irish counterpart George Dockrell, Seelaar was happy to give the ball air and was rightly rewarded when Gayle holed out to long-off, one run shy of his 8000th in ODI cricket.
At that stage, two balls into the batting Powerplay, West Indies looked like suffering the same hoodoo that has infected many other teams throughout the tournament, but in Pollard they had the right man for the stage. There was the customary six-hitting, including a monstrous strike into the stands off Mudassar Bukhari, but there was plenty of nous too as he raced to his fifty from 23 balls, the joint fourth-quickest in World Cup history.
Given the stiff target Netherlands were unlikely to get near and Roach ensured West Indies overcame them in style.
- The 215-run win is West Indies' biggest margin of victory in ODIs, going past their earlier record of 208 runs against Canada in Kingston last year. It's also the joint sixth-largest by any team in World Cup history.
- West Indies' total of 330 is their second-highest in World Cups, and seventh-best in all ODIs.
- Kemar Roach's hat-trick is the 28th in ODI history, and the sixth in World Cups. He is also the first West Indian to achieve this feat in World Cups, and the second in all ODIs, after Jerome Taylor. Chetan Sharma, Saqlain Mushtaq, Chaminda Vaas, Brett Lee and Lasith Malinga are the others to take a hat-trick in World Cups.
- Roach's figures of 6 for 27 are the fourth-best by a West Indian bowler in ODIs, and the second-best in World Cups, after Winston Davis' 7 for 51 against Australia in 1983.
- Keiron Pollard's 23-ball half-century is the joint fourth-fastest in terms of balls faced in World Cups. Brendon McCullum's 20-ball effort against Canada in 2007 is the fastest, while the next two belong to Mark Boucher in the same tournament: off 21 balls against Netherlands, and 22 balls against West Indies.