A crucial late cameo by New Zealand allrounder James Neesham helped consign West Indies to their 10th defeat from 16 T20 Internationals in this calendar year, as the hosts lost by 13 runs in Kingston, Jamaica.
Neesham scored 33 runs from 15 balls and, more crucially, 29 from New Zealand’s 31 runs off the late eight deliveries of the match as the “Kiwis” did enough to start their Caribbean tour on a positive note.
West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran, not for the first time, was left trying to find the positives from a “near defeat”.
“We got close, we are happy with that—we are finding that template,” said Pooran, after the contest. “Guys are playing [the] situation a bit smarter.”
Pooran won the toss and inserted New Zealand who started positively with a 62-run opening partnership between Martin Guptill and Devon Conway. But were removed in the eighth over, within one ball of each other by allrounder Odean Smith.
However, the visitors rebuilt their innings around captain Kane Williamson, who scored 43 runs (off 33 balls, 4×4, 2×6), before Neesham exploded at the death. West Indies veteran pacer Jason Holder got the brunt of it as he went for 23 runs in the final over of New Zealand’s innings.
In contrast, West Indies lost their first wicket, Kyle Mayers, in the second over of their innings with just 14 runs on the board, and did not register a single 50-run partnership until the unbeaten eight wicket pairing of Smith and Romario Shepherd.
Shepherd hit 31 (off 16 deliveries, 1×4, 3×6) and Smith contributed 27 (off 12 deliveries, 4×4, 1×6). Only opener Shamarh Brooks (42 from 43 balls, 2×4, 3×6) scored more runs for West Indies yesterday.
Pooran insisted, though, that the pieces are coming together for the West Indies.
“Roles [in the batting lineup] are clear, but they’ll learn,” he said. “I will not pull up any batsman. We will get better. Losing hurts us but we are trying our best—a couple of things needed to go in our favour.
“[…] Winning and losing is contagious and we are losing at the moment.”
Spinner New Zealand spinner Mitchell Satner was the eventual man of the match with 3/19, including the vital wickets of Brooks, Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer. He said his CPL stint with the Barbados Tridents helped.
“I’ve played in Trinidad [during the CPL], and you find out what lengths work against these guys,” said Satner. “[…] Throughout our bowling innings, we were able to take wickets, which is very handy since they bat so deep. We saw their fireworks even though they were seven down.”
West Indies scored 18 runs off the last eight legal balls they faced, while New Zealand scored 31. It was, a CricInfo commentator suggested, the difference between the two nations in the end.
Toss: West Indies
New Zealand 185/5 (20 overs) (Kane Williamson 47, Devon Conway 43; Odean Smith 3/32, Obed McCoy 1/39)
West Indies 172/7 (20 over) (Shamarh Brooks 42, Romario Shepherd 31; Mitchell Santner 3/19, Lockie Ferguson 1/33)
Result: New Zealand won by 13 runs
Series result: New Zealand lead 3-match series 1-0
Man of the Match: Mitchell Santner