Windies’ miseries on a largely forgettable tour of New Zealand showed no signs of abating as another insipid batting display condemned them to 47-run defeat in the T20I series opener at the Saxton Oval in Nelson. The visitors were left searching for the mojo that has seen them bag the World T20 title as a Williamson-less New Zealand helped themselves to 187 on the board backed up by a fine all-round bowling performance to bowl Windies out in 19 overs.
The defining momentum shift in the contest, one that saw Windies compete well with the ball for most parts, arrived in the final over of New Zealand’s innings. Having pulled things back admirably after fifties from Glenn Phillips and Colin Munro, Windies conceded 25 off the final over with designated death bowler Keserick Williams bowling three no-balls as Mitchell Santner (23* off 11) carried his team’s total from barely-par to highly competitive.
Even then, on a feather bed of a pitch, Windies possessed the batting muscle to hunt down 188. Seth Rance, one of New Zealand’s two T20I debutants on the day, was on a hat-trick as early as the third over of the chase, after removing Chris Gayle and Chadwick Walton off successive deliveries with key contributions from his fielders. Keeper Phillips sprinted backwards to chase down a top-edged offering from Gayle and completed the catch with a full-length dive. The other debutant, Anaru Kitchen, then took a sharp catch at extra cover to send back Walton.
Faced with a constantly rising rate and two disciplined spinners in Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner, Andre Fletcher could just about score at a run a ball before falling to Sodhi’s guile – stumped off an intentionally shorter-length delivery. Doug Bracewell received two early New Year gifts courtesy loose shots from Jason Mohammed and Shai Hope as Windies lost half the side just past the halfway mark in the chase. There were flickers of a fight thereafter with Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse and Jerome Taylor scoring brisk fifties, but the early blows had left those in the latter half of the line-up with too much to do.
Earlier in the day, after being put in to bat, New Zealand endured a little wobble either side of a sterling 86-run stand between Phillips and Munro. Both batsmen completed half-centuries, off 38 and 31 balls respectively. Windies made matters worse after Brathwaite put down a legitimate chance off Munro at mid-off in the middle of a typically miserly spell from Samuel Badree. Both Munro and Phillips failed to capitalise on their fifties, forcing the middle order into a brief phase of rebuilding. But Williams’s profligacy combined with Santner’s exuberance with the bat ensured the visitors had enough on the board to force another West Indian batting collapse.
Brief scores: New Zealand 187/7 in 20 overs (Glenn Phillips 55, Colin Munro 53; Carlos Brathwaite 2-38) beat Windies 140 in 19 overs (Andre Fletcher 27; Seth Rance 3-30, Tim Southee 3-36) by 47 runs.