New Zealand beat the West Indies by 12 runs in the first T20 International. The Black Caps secured the win via the Duckworth/Lewis method, largely thanks to the way they limited their opponents' batting order in Dominica.
The Windies could only establish a modest score after New Zealand gave them the right to bat first. West Indies managed 132-8, thanks to the performances of Andre Fletcher and Darren Bravo.
The prolific pairing piled up 82 runs before Kieron Pollard took over. The big-hitting all-rounder smashed a late six.
However, Pollard's efforts were slightly overshadowed by the dismissal of captain Darren Sammy. The skipper was caught out following a poorly judged and reckless strike.
That was symptomatic of a West Indies batting attack that failed to really maximize its obvious talent and push home a commanding advantage. Too many batsmen were overly eager to chase runs even after making mediocre contact with the ball. Denesh Ramdin was run out thanks to this folly.
There were also too many smashers on display, even for a T20 format. Four West Indies batsmen were caught out after chancing a big swing.
It was mostly Trent Boult's steady bowling that tempted Windies' batsmen into those risky choices. He caught Fletcher, while Sammy was caught out from his delivery.
Boult even managed to thwart Lendl Simmons, forcing a leg before wicket (lbw). The fast-pitching lefty was chiefly responsible for stifling the Windies and slowing them down.
Boult was a key part of a bowling performance that gave New Zealand hope of overhauling their deficit.
Here's the full scorecard from Saturday's play, beginning with the Windies' batting effort:
|Dwayne Smith||Caught by BJ Watling||Tim Southee||8||13|
|Lendl Simmons||LBW||Trent Boult||1||3|
|Andre Fletcher||Caught by Trent Boult||Ish Sodhi||52||39|
|Darren Bravo||Caught by Luke Ronchi||Corey Anderson||30||28|
|Kieron Pollard||Caught by Corey Anderson||Tim Southee||16||16|
|Darren Sammy||Caught by Tim Southee||Trent Boult||10||4|
|Andre Russell||Caught by Ross Taylor||Corey Anderson||1||5|
|Denesh Ramdin||Run Out||1||1|
|Sunil Narine||Not Out||0||0|
Fletcher certainly wasn't afraid to attack. Sadly, his accuracy was not shared by enough of his teammates. That meant the West Indies finished with a decent score, but it was one that should have been so much better.
Of course, part of the reason that score wasn't higher was the consistency of New Zealand's bowlers. Here is their scorecard:
It was Boult and Anderson's fast pace that caused the most problems for the West Indies. Only Fletcher managed to stay composed enough to still craft good shots.
Boult and Anderson's efforts gave New Zealand a favourable target to overhaul. It was captain Brendon McCullum who did the most damage leading that charge, as the scorecard shows:
|Kane Williamson||Caught and Bowled by Darren Sammy||Darren Sammy||19||18|
|Jimmy Neesham||Bowled by Krishmar Santokie||Krishmar Santokie||11||8|
|Brendon McCullum||Caught by Dwayne Smith||Darren Sammy||40||35|
|Ross Taylor||Not Out||28||20|
|Corey Anderson||Caught by Sunil Narine||Darren Sammy||15||9|
|Luke Ronchi||Not Out||0||0|
Despite Sammy's best efforts, McCullum was just too strong. He smashed a quartet of deliveries to the boundary, including a trio of fours.
But McCullum wasn't the only heavy hitter who dented West Indies' hopes. Taylor blasted a pair of sixes, while Anderson quickly followed suit with one of his own.
With an achievable target in sight, New Zealand's batsmen were able to combine aggressive daring with steady efficiency. Once they had notched a quick and healthy score, they didn't need to chase runs in the reckless manner the West Indies had.
McCullum was the leader of this savvy approach, as Sky Sports noted:
New Zealand’s reply was led by their captain, Brendon McCullum, as he made 40 off 35 balls, including hitting three fours and a six. Cleverly he always made sure his team were ahead of the required rate should the game suddenly be halted, despite the fact they regularly lost wickets.
With five overs needed to make a match official they took left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie for 17 just before the cut-off point, then made sure they were never behind the par score from then on.
While Sammy and Krishmar Santokie tried to make things difficult, the medium-paced approach of their bowling gave New Zealand a chance to amass runs early. The Windies needed quicker delivery to force mistakes, but they never got it.
On a day when rain forced delays, the Black Caps held their nerve to unsettle the West Indies. It was a disappointing defeat for the latter, who failed to make the most of their batting strength.
For New Zealand, the win was a tribute to the calm leadership of McCullum. He engineered a thoroughly professional win, based on discipline and patience.
Those qualities ultimately stifled the eager naivety the West Indies players displayed throughout, something this team must soon shed.