The BLACKCAPS couldn’t recover from a horror start as they lost the first One Day International to the West Indies by nine wickets at Sabina Park in Kingston today.
Rain nearly saw the match end in a draw with the West Indies at 93 for one after 18 overs. However the weather didn’t save New Zealand in the end, as the home team cruised to their readjusted target of 136 from 33 overs.
Asked to bat first, the BLACKCAPS made 190 for nine off their 50 overs.
The West Indies chase started in controversial circumstances, with Lendl Simmons caught brilliantly by BJ Watling early, despite questions of a front foot no-ball by bowler Kyle Mills.
However it wouldn’t matter, as Chris Gayle once again took control of the innings in yet another spectacular display of power hitting.
Along with Dwayne Smith, Gayle led the West Indies to victory, putting on an unbroken partnership of 130 for the second wicket.
When the heavens opened after 18 overs it looked as if New Zealand may be lucky enough to come out with a draw, but after a short break play would resumed.
The BLACKCAPS were going to need to take ten wickets for victory, but with the West Indies set just 43 to get from 15 overs after the break things went going from bad to worse.
Smith top scored with 65 not out, while Gayle also remained unbeaten on 63 to claim a nine wicket victory with 52 balls to spare.
Earlier, Andre Russell had ran through the top order as the BLACKCAPS slumped to 33 for three. The West Indian quick had Martin Guptill caught at second slip off his first ball for one and Daniel Flynn clean bowled for 12, before Rob Nicol holed out for 14.
The introduction of Sunil Narine slowed the scoring rate and the pressure built by the wily spinner soon showed as Dean Brownlie was trapped in front for one.
Kane Williamson and BJ Watling tried to consolidate, but the untimely wicket of the stand-in captain, who was caught behind off the bowling of Darren Sammy for 24, saw the visitors fall to 71 for five.
A positive period followed for the BLACKCAPS as Jacob Oram worked hard to wrestle back the momentum, while Watling worked the singles. Oram, 32 off 39 deliveries, smacked two massive sixes to go with two well-placed boundaries, before Ravi Rampaul snuck one between bat and pad in the 35th over.
Andrew Ellis became Narine’s second victim on 14 runs, while Kyle Mill was caught for one to hand Russell match figures of four for 45.
Watling was given out LBW off the bowling of Rampaul for the sides top score of 60 in the 48th over while Tim Southee and Tarun Nethula both contributed nine not out.
Considering the start they suffered, it was a gritty performance by the middle and lower order, but it was still well short of a total to truly challenge the West Indies.
Before the next game the BLACKCAPS will be searching for a way to shut Gayle down, as well as working on finding some form with the bat.
They’ll get a chance to level the series early on Sunday morning.