Windies target New Zealand batting in likely showdown

“I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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It was a must-win and we had to win by a big margin,” Holder told reporters at McLean Park. “The way the guys came out and played cricket today I can’t say much more.”

West Indies had been facing elimination if they could not secure a large win on Sunday.

Holder and Jerome Taylor reduced UAE to 46 for six before Amjad Javed and Nasir Aziz combined for a 107-run partnership that gave their score some credibility.

The associate nation were eventually dismissed for 175 and Holder’s team romped to 176-4 in the 31st over, with Johnson Charles (55) and Jonathan Carter (50 not out) providing the bulk of the runs.

Charles’ form will put pressure on Dwayne Smith, who has scored just 93 runs in six innings, for the quarter-finals if Chris Gayle is fit enough to play after he pulled out of Sunday’s match with a back injury.

Holder expects him to play in Wellington next Saturday.

“He has had the same back problem he has had for a year and he has good days and bad days,” Holder said of Gayle’s injury.

“But he is a crucial player for us going into the quarter-final. He will be up for it, even if he is not 100 percent.

“He is a big game player and we all know what he can do on those days.

“Obviously Johnson played a very good innings and has probably pretty much secured his spot for the next game but we will sit down, see the conditions and pick the team.”

Holder was mindful they could still possibly face Australia in the quarter-finals but were expecting to face Brendon McCullum’s side.

“New Zealand has been playing some pretty decent cricket,” he added in noting McCullum’s side were unbeaten.

“They have done reasonably well up top with guys like (Martin) Guptill, McCullum and Kane Williamson, so obviously the quicker we get into their middle order, the better off for us.

“And when we bat we just need to counter the Southee-Boult opening combination.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

Aust Zunic takes one-shot win in NZ Open

Wollongong youngster Jordan Zunic is celebrating a breakthrough victory in the New Zealand Open – only his fourth tournament as a professional.

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The 22-year-old produced a display of sustained quality with scores of 68 66 66 66 to triumph by one shot at 21-under-par from veteran countryman David Bransdon as Australians swamped the final leaderboard, claiming the top nine spots.

Bransdon finished with a 64 at The Hills course at Arrowtown, making birdies on eight of his last 10 holes, but his bogey at the 18th cost him plenty as Zunic holed a two-metre birdie putt on the last to avoid a playoff.

Zunic turned pro despite failing to earn a card at the Australasian tour school and he only got into the NZ Open thanks to a top-10 finish at the New Zealand PGA Championship last week where he was a qualifier.

His victory was all the sweeter for his grim experience when involved in a serious car crash while playing as an amateur in the US last year.

He was hospitalised for two months with severe head cuts, a broken elbow and a big loss of blood.

“When I started playing again, I just felt so grateful to be breathing and out there playing golf. I could have easily died, and that actually helped me play better,” Zunic told stuff.co.nz.

“The first six months there were some medical issues I had to get over.

“Once I got over them, I feel like it’s really built character for me and made me a little wiser.

“I know it was horrible at the time but I feel like it’s made me a stronger person. As my dad always says, everything happens for a reason.”

Zunic collected a winner’s cheque for $A164,000 and earns a two-year exemption on the Australasian PGA Tour.

Kristopher Mueck was third, three shots behind Zunic after a 69.

Fellow Australians Cameron Smith (66) and Brad Kennedy (68) tied for fourth, while countrymen Daniel Fox (64), Peter Fowler (66), Scott Arnold (67) and Aaron Pike (71) tied sixth.

Celtics in late NBA surge

The Indiana Pacers have put together a late-season surge to get into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

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The Boston Celtics look like they are doing the same thing.

Tyler Zeller scored 18 points to lead a balanced attack on Saturday night and the visiting Celtics made all the hustle plays down the stretch of a hard-fought 93-89 victory over the Pacers, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Zeller said. “We believe in ourselves.

“In the beginning of the year we lost a lot of these games.”

Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Jae Crowder added 16 points apiece for Boston (29-36), who have won a season-high four in a row to move within one-half game of Charlotte (29-35) for the final playoff spot in the East.

“These are the kind of games that I’ve always loved – just find a way,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

George Hill scored a season-high 30 points with eight assists for Indiana (30-35), who have been the hottest team in the NBA.

The Pacers were 12th in the East six weeks ago but won 13 of their next 15 games to climb to seventh.

The Celtics have made a similar ascent.

They have shuffled players all season and were 12th three weeks ago but have won nine of 12 and are now tied for ninth with Miami.

“It’s amazing (how) he’s got them playing as well as they are with so much turnover,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

Elsewhere Golden State thrashed New York Knicks 125-94 as Klay Thompson scored 27 points and Stephen Curry added 25 and 11 assists for the league-leading Warriors, who have seven straight home games.

Italy’s Andrea Bargnani scored 18 points for the league-worst Knicks, who have lost six of seven.

The Washington Wizards enjoyed a 113-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings off the back of John Wall’s 31 points and 12 assists as the Wizards roared back from a 21-point deficit for their third straight win.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 30 points for the Kings.

Dante Exum had eight points as the Utah Jazz edged Detroit Pistons 88-85.

Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets also enjoyed wins.

One catch could have changed our World Cup – Tauqir

It was the sixth loss of the World Cup for UAE, who demonstrated on several occasions they could play international standard cricket if they did not quite have the skill or class to put consistent pressure on their opponents.

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They suffered just one humiliating loss, to India by nine wickets, but their mindset after that game appeared to be not to get embarrassed rather than attempting to beat the test nations.

Tauqir, however, felt that had Nasir Aziz taken a catch in the outfield off Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien, they might have been able to record their second victory at the World Cup after they beat the Netherlands by seven wickets in 1996.

O’Brien went on to score another 26 runs that helped Ireland to a two-wicket victory as they made 279 for eight with four balls to spare.

“Overall the whole tournament has been very, very special for the whole team,” Tauqir told reporters in Napier. “We really enjoyed the whole tournament.

“I think one moment that would have changed the game was I think Kevin O’Brien’s catch that got dropped. If that catch would have been taken, I think we would have definitely won that game.”

Tauqir singled out Shaiman Anwar’s batting as being a particular highlight for the team.

Anwar top-scored with 311 runs at 51.83 and at one stage after all of the teams had played four games, was the highest run scorer in the tournament.

Tauqir added the bowling had been good, though the majority of the batsmen had struggled and their fielding was not up to scratch.

“There were a few positives. I think overall our bowling department was pretty consistent in every game,” he said.

“I think it’s a little bit of fielding and the batting department that needs a bit of improvement.

“But we take a lot of positives from the whole event, and it was overall a good learning experience for us.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

Qld rollercoaster strands thrillseekers

Thirteen thrill-seekers got more than they bargained for when their Gold Coast rollercoaster broke down mid ride, stranding them for hours.

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The Green Lantern attraction at Warner Bros Movie World came to an abrupt stop just before 1pm, leaving one carriage stuck precariously near the top of the ride.

Six people were trapped when the rollercoaster malfunctioned, stranding them for hours high above the ground.

Crews from Queensland Fire were called in to help with the rescue, and the stuck passengers were all safely rescued by about 4.30pm.

There were no injuries, but the six were taken to hospital for a medical clearance.

Earlier another seven people were in a second carriage when the roller-coaster stopped, but they were able to exit the ride via a nearby set of stairs.

The roller coaster will not be returned to use until engineers determine the source of the malfunction, described only as an “issue with a wheel” on the carriage.

“Warner Bros Movie World would like to offer its sincerest apologies to those guests that were involved,” the theme park said in a statement.

“The Green Lantern attraction is equipped with multiple safety redundancies to ensure the safety of all riders.

“Our team of engineers and technicians will investigate the cause of this mechanical issue before the ride is reopened.”

Witnesses said it appeared part of the wheel componentry had fallen off completely.

One witness described hearing a “big bang” as one of the carts rounded a bend on the upper level of the track.

Witnesses began posting about the incident on social media despite being discouraged from taking photos.

One witness, who was just about to join the ride’s queue, described the incident as her “worst fear come to life”.