Kieron Pollard, the West Indies captain who had just emerged from self isolation after playing in the Indian Premier League, scored a splendid unbeaten 75. Yet the tourists narrowly lost their opening Twenty20 International (T20I) to New Zealand today (27 November).
Left-hander Pollard led by example, after coming in at no.6, by taking just 37 balls to help the Windies rattle up a total of 180-7 from their 16 overs in a rain affected contest in Auckland.
In response New Zealand’s top order were soon sent back to the pavilion. But Jimmy Neesham held their innings together by forging all important partnerships with South African-born debutant Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner as they reached 179-5 after 15.2 overs, to claim victory using the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
With no community cases of COVID-19 throughout New Zealand, fans packed Eden Park for the nation’s inaugural home international since their Test match success against India at Christchurch in March.
Both teams took a knee before the start of play, as a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with the Windies sporting the same Black Lives Matter symbol on their uniforms that they wore during July’s three Test series in England.
New Zealand, without usual skipper Kane Williamson, won the toss and elected to field. Stand-in captain Tim Southee’s decision seemed to have paid dividends as the tourists stuttered to 59-5.
Although Grenada’s Andre Fletcher got the Windies off to a solid start with a quickfire 34 from 13 balls in an opening partnership of 58 off 3.2 overs with Jamaica Brandon King, until Lockie Ferguson make the breakthrough by clean bowling Fletcher.
The Windies then lost four wickets in the space of eight balls as Ferguson and Southee ripped through the innings, before Pollard stopped the rot. His sixth-wicket partnership of 84 with Jamaica’s Fabian Allen, who amassed 30 from 26 balls, helped steer the momentum in favour of the tourists as they finished with a creditable 180-7.
And Pollard’s fifth T20I half-century, which included eight sixes, surpassed his previous best knock of 68 in the format.
In response the hosts made good progress, despite losing early wickets, to leave the contest finely poised at 63-4 from 6.3 overs.
After Conway was run out, having scored a steady 41 from 68 deliveries, it was left for Neesham (48no) and Santner (31no) to propel the run rate with the dark clouds looming. And sure enough the rain set in on the verge of New Zealand eclipsing the total set with four balls remaining.
New Zealand v West Indies tour
1st T20I | NZ beat WI by 5 wickets (using the DLS method)
WI 180-7 (16 overs), NZ 176-5 (15.2 overs)
Eden Park, Auckland
Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Seddon Park, Hamilton
Basin Reserve, Wellington
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