WI vs NZ: Mitchell Santner celebrates a wicket.© AFP
The West Indian white-ball-wee season continued on Wednesday as New Zealand took a 13-point win in the first T20 International of a three-game series at Jamaica’s Sabina Park. Fresh off a successful European sojourn, the Black Caps fielded a formidable 185 for five hitting first in a rain-broken innings before their key bowlers came together to limit the Caribbean side to 172 for seven in response.
Since beating Bangladesh 2-0 in a T20I game, the West Indies were beaten 3-0 by the Bangladeshis and India in consecutive One-Day International series before being beaten 4-1 by the Indians in another T20I campaign immediately prior to this assignment.
New Zealand almost paid for a period of complacency towards the end of the match as an explosive uninterrupted eighth-wicket partnership of 58 runs between Romario Shepherd (31 not out) and Odean Smith (27 not out) gave the hosts a glimmer of hope surrendered after they had crashed into 114 before seven in the 16th.
But they had too much to do as Mitchell Santner’s draw of three for 19 tore the heart of the West Indies as he claimed the wicket from captain Nicholas Pooran first pitch before adding Shimron Hetmyer and top scorer Shamarh Brooks (42) to his list of victims.
“It was a bit surprising to see so much spin on this deck,” said the left-armed spinner after receiving the prize. “Bowling the right lengths is key against these guys because with the power they possess, they can knock you away pretty easily.”
New Zealand was on its way after starting with an opening score of 62 between Devon Conway and Martin Guptill. Skipper Kane Williamson’s 47 from 33 balls kept the innings on either side of the rain stoppage, but it was the late impulse from Jimmy Neesham, who drove an unbeaten 33 off just 15 balls with three fours and two sixes, that propelled the tourists to a target. which eventually turned out to be just out of reach for the clubbing Shepherd and Smith.
For Smith, the match was a personal triumph as his punching power followed the best T20I figures of three to 32 in his career.
“Winning or losing can be contagious and the problem is we’re losing right now,” said a gloomy Pooran as he pondered yet another setback in the countdown to the World T20 in Australia in October, where the two-time champion first came first. through a qualifying round.
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