Colin Munro century powers NZ to T20I series win

Colin Munro became the first cricketer to register three T20I centuries as he set up New Zealand’s 119-run victory against Windies in the third and final T20I in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday (January 3). Opting to bat, New Zealand rode on Munro’s pyrotechnics as he blazed to a 53-ball 104, having been involved in a record 136-run opening stand with Martin Guptill (63 off 38), to help the hosts post a mammoth 243 for 5. Windies, on the other hand, lacked any fire-power in their innings, barring Andre Fletcher’s 32-ball 46, and were bowled out for 124, which ended their dismal tour of New Zealand without a win.

For Munro, it was an extension of his previous innings (when he smashed an 18-ball fifty), as he bludgeoned the Windies bowlers from the word go. On the other hand, it was an opportunity Guptill to make up for his failure in the second T20I and he went about it in a more traditional way, carving the drives, bringing out the sweeps and helping himself to easy runs on the leg-side. With the ying and yang of New Zealand’s opening functioning optimally, a half-century stand was raised as early as the fifth over as they capitalised on a tired-looking bowling attack.

After a throughly disappointing tour for the visitors the Windies bowlers appeared disheartened, as were the fielders, giving out signals of an open invitation for a run feast for New Zealand. Neither the return of Jerome Taylor nor handing a T20I debut to Rayad Emrit, coming in as replacements for Kesrick Williams and Sheldon Cottrell, helped the Windies. While Taylor ended up conceding 22 off his first two overs at the start of the innings, Emrit, who was introduced into the attack later, ended up being struck for two sixes by Munro, who registered his third successive fifty-plus score in T20Is, getting there off 26 deliveries.

More than a competition between bat and ball, it seemed a competition between Munro and the spectators on the grass-banks, with several of his big hits being put down by the fans, dressed in orange – as part of the ‘catch a million’ contest. Sadly, it was the same on the field with Nurse failing to hold on to one at the deep and allowing the ball across the boundary which helped Guptill bring up a 31-ball half-century. Windies also used the DRS for a caught-behind decision that initially went in favour of Guptill, and was eventually upheld. Meanwhile, the six-hitting continued before the opening stand finally came to an end when Guptill edged an Emrit delivery to the ‘keeper.

The dismissal did little to disturb the tempo of the innings as Munro continued to flay the Windies bowlers, which inspired Tom Bruce too, to attempt aggressive shots. Bruce scored two fours and a six during his knock of 23 which raised another half-century stand before he was bowled by Brathwaite. Munro, who had a lucky break when Chris Gayle missed a run-out opportunity, went on to bring up 47-ball century while powering New Zealand past 200 in the 17th over.

Taylor’s agony continued into his final over as Kane Williamson struck a couple of deliveries straight down the ground for a six and a four, and one more boundary to square leg, helping New Zealand surpass their previous highest of 214, which they scored against Australia in Christchurch. Taylor finally had something going his way as Williamson was bowled off the final delivery of the penultimate over, following by Munro’s dismissal in the final over. But that didn’t deny New Zealand a fiery finish as Glenn Phillips and Mitchell Santner scored a six apiece to power their side to a massive total.

In complete contrast to New Zealand’s start, Windies had a horror beginning as they lost both their openers in the first over. Munro couldn’t be kept out of action as he pouched a catch at point to help Tim Southee dismiss Chadwick Walton for a first-ball duck. Gayle too fell without scoring, gloving a catch to the ‘keeper. Trent Boult, who was included in the eleven in place of Seth Rance, had some issues with his front foot in his opening over and was also hit for two successive fours by Rovman Powell. Andre Fletcher then got into the act, taking toll of the short deliveries to score two fours and a six off consecutive deliveries, followed by a boundary for Powell. However, the counter-attacking stand was cut short by Anaru Kitchen after Powell failed in his attempt to go big, which was followed by the run out of Shimron Hetmyer.

Despite the wickets, Windies were scoring as per the required rate thanks to Fletcher, who was giving New Zealand a taste of their own medicine, albeit with a different style. There was flair written all over, as he toyed with the bowlers with hits to and over the ropes around the Bay Oval. While the spinners tried to cramp him for room, even a small avenue was fully capitalised, as he tried to keep Windies’ hopes alive. However, an attempt to slog-sweep Ish Sodhi resulted in his downfall and also signalled the end of Windies’ last line of resistance.

Following the dismissals of Brathwaite and Emrit, Taylor managed a couple of big hits but all it did was to keep the ones beyond the boundary interested as part of the catch contest, before he too departed. With Shai Hope unable to bat after injuring his shoulder earlier, the dismissal of Samuel Badree signalled the end of Windies’ innings, with their huge loss in the final T20I rounding off a dismal tour.

Brief scores: New Zealand 243/5 in 20 overs (Colin Munro 104, Martin Guptill 63; Carlos Brathwaite 2-50) beat Windies 124 in 16.3 overs (Andre Fletcher 46; Tim Southee 3-21) by 119 runs.

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