The West Indies’ long, dry summer in New Zealand continued Friday when they were beaten by 47 runs in the first of three Twenty20 Internationals.
After losing the two-Test series 2-0 and the three-match one-day series 3-0, there was hope the West Indies would show some form in the shortest format in which they are the current world champions.
But after a new-look and largely inexperienced New Zealand team made 187-7, batting first after losing the toss, the West Indies batted lethargically and were all out for 140 in 19 overs.
The last over of the New Zealand innings, bowled by Kesrick Williams, cost 25 runs and made a substantial difference between the teams, giving New Zealand a more than competitive total on a slow wicket at Saxton Oval which made hard-hitting difficult.
Wicketkeeper Glenn Phillips, in only his fourth one-day international for New Zealand, made 56, took three catches and had two stumpings in a man-of-the-match performance which was hugely influential in New Zealand’s victory.
Colin Munro scored 53, sharing an 86-run second wicket partnership with Phillips, and Mitchell Santner, with 23 from 11 balls, helped New Zealand to a total which was over-par in challenging conditions.
Williams has been one of the best bowlers in the world in Twenty20 cricket in 2017 but his last over, strewn with no balls, tipped the balance of the match in New Zealand’s favor.
The 30-year-old fast bowler Seth Rance, on his Twenty20 international debut, dismissed Chris Gayle (12) and Chadwick Walton (7) with successive deliveries in the third over to deal a blow to the West Indies’ innings from which it never recovered.
Doug Bracewell dismissed Jason Mohammed (3) and Shai Hope (15) in the 11th over and Tim Southee removed captain Carlos Brathwaite (21) and Rovman Powell (6) in the space of three balls in the 15th over to deprive the West Indies’ reply of any momentum.
The West Indies, supposed masters of the T20 format, took too long to realize that it was not possible to play big shots on a holding wicket and their innings was in disarray before they reacted. They were 64-3 and already needing 12 runs per over at the mid-point of their innings and they weren’t able to accelerate against good New Zealand.
Rance, on debut, took 3-30 including the first and last wickets of the innings, Southee took 3-36 and Bracewell 2-21. Spinners Mitchell Santner (1-21) and Ish Sodhi (1-30) also bowled important and restraining spells.
“It was a pretty good effort,” New Zealand captain Southee said. “We struggled early on with the bat but the guys hung in there and we were able to finish pretty strongly.”
“The last over was crucial to gaining some momentum and taking it into our bowling effort. It was sort of hanging in the balance there but we scraped our way to a reasonable total, then put the icing on the top.”
The West Indies were set back irreversibly by the loss of Gayle and Chadwick Walton to consecutive deliveries. No-one managed to command the innings from then on and the West Indies’ challenge quickly dwindled.
“To be fair we never got away, we never got that big over to really set us away,” Brathwaite said. “But credit to New Zealand, they were very disciplined and they fielded very well.”