New Zealand Win Rain-Hit Opener

Andre Fletcher hit the only half-century of the game but ended up on the losing side
Andre Fletcher hit the only half-century of the game but ended up on the losing side
©WICB Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography

New Zealand 117-4 (McCullum 40) beat
West Indies 132-7 (Fletcher 52) by 12 runs (D/L)
First Twenty20 International, Dominica

New Zealand won the opening Twenty20 International against the West Indies by 12 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method in Dominica, coming out on top of a match that was interrupted and finally ended prematurely by bad weather.

Andre Fletcher hit a half-century as the West Indies made 132 for eight from 18 overs before New Zealand reached 117 for four in 15 overs to win by 12 runs, having been ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score for most of their innings.

New Zealand, who handed leg-spinner Ish Sodhi a Twenty20 International debut, won an important toss and chose to bowl first as the West Indies welcomed back Kieron Pollard following a long absence due to injury.

And New Zealand made the better start to the game as both Tim Southee and Trent Boult beat the outside edges of Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Smith, making the most of early conditions that suited the bowlers.

Inswing did for Simmons when he was trapped in front by Boult for one and Smith, trying to get the scoreboard moving, holed out to BJ Watling off Southee soon after having made eight.

Darren Bravo then upper cut for six over third man shortly before play was stopped due to rain for almost 90 minutes with the West Indies on 22 for two.

The break reduced the match to 18 overs per side and when play resumed, Bravo and Andre Fletcher started to put together an excellent partnership. Fletcher hit Boult for six over long-on and Bravo welcomed Ish Sodhi to Twenty20 International cricket by despatching his first delivery straight down the ground for a maximum.

Fletcher brought up the half-century stand with another six of Sodhi, targeting the straight boundary on the way to a 36-ball half-century. He had some fortune during his innings, particularly when he was caught off a Southee no ball, and then dropped by Corey Anderson in the same over that he hit the New Zealand all-rounder for two on-side sixes.

His luck ran out eventually, however, and trying to hit Sodhi into the on-side one more time, he was caught by Boult for 52 in 39 balls, soon after Bravo (30 in 28 deliveries) was caught by Luke Ronchi as he top-edged Anderson.

Kieron Pollard (16 in 16 balls) and Darren Sammy (10 in four) struck a six each as the West Indies tried to finish their innings strongly but New Zealand fought back well, Southee, Boult and Anderson all finishing with a brace of wickets.

In reply, New Zealand opened with Jimmy Neesham and Kane Williamson and the left-handed Neesham quickly found his range, hitting Krishmar Santokie high over long-on for six and then down the ground for four. Santokie got his revenge by bowling him via an inside edge soon after for 11 in eight balls.

While New Zealand had used their quick bowlers to put the West Indies under pressure early in their innings, spinners Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine had the same effect for the home side with the latter generating appreciable turn which kept even Brendon McCullum and Williamson quiet.

The shackles were lifted when McCullum hit what was perhaps the shot of the day when he lifted Santokie over cover for a majestic six in the fifth over, following it up with a pull for four and another boundary cut away past the fielders in the ring. It moved the score on to 39 for one after five overs, and the flurry of runs took New Zealand from being behind the Duckworth/Lewis par score, to being ahead of it.

And with the rain always threatening to return it gave them a little breathing space until Darren Sammy had Williamson (19) caught and bowled after the ball stuck in the pitch and looped back towards him off a leading edge.

After 10 overs, New Zealand were 70 for two with the experienced pair McCullum and Ross Taylor at the crease and members of both teams studying the Duckworth/Lewis sheets.

Ross Taylor then blasted Andre Russell over long-off for six and then through the on-side for four as New Zealand began to accelerate, only for them to be pegged back again when McCullum pulled Sammy into the hands of Smith in the deep for 40 in 35 balls.

Nevertheless, with 30 balls remaining, New Zealand needed 36 to win and after Anderson lifted Pollard into the advertising hoardings, they needed a run per ball for the final 25 balls.

Still, the game appeared in the balance as Anderson (15 in nine balls) was caught by Narine off Sammy as he could only spoon a short ball to short fine leg, but with the score on 115 for four after 15 overs, the umpires deemed that the light was not good enough to carry on and New Zealand could celebrate a job well done.

Taylor was unbeaten on 29 in 20 balls.

The second and final game is tomorrow.

© Cricket World 2014