Black Caps fall short despite McClenaghan heroics
Everywhere you looked in the wash-up of the Black Caps' thrilling two-wicket loss to the West Indies in Auckland, there were storylines.
Count them off: a Black Caps top order collapse, gutsy batting efforts by the brothers McCullum, an impressive five-wicket bag by New Zealand seamer Mitchell McClenaghan and two controversial DRS decisions.
Such was the undulating fashion of the first one-dayer between the Black Caps and West Indies at Eden Park that the the biggest storyline heading into the encounter - the international return of Jesse Ryder - was lost in the motion of it all.
Ryder's outing - his first for New Zealand since February last year - amounted to no more than a five-ball duck, and a dropped catch; but with so much else going on, it didn't matter.
After all, Ryder will get more chances this series, and his team nearly won a match that they deserved to lose after a poor all-round effort with the bat - and mixed results with the ball.
McClenaghan will receive the lion's share of the praise for the near-result, as the West Indies chased down New Zealand 156 all out.
The aggressive left-armer took 5 for 58 off his 9.3 overs, claiming the best figures of his young international career, combining well with veteran Kyle Mills (2 for 37).
Yet as impressive as he was claiming wickets, he was equally as wild with the ball, conceding seven wides and a no ball.
The West Indies made hard work of their chase, thanks to the efforts of the two Auckland seamers, but thanks to Darren Sammy, who scored 43 off 27 balls late on, they were able to claw home for their first win of the tour.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, whose 51 was the shining light in the Black Caps batting effort, conceded their overall performance left plenty to be desired.
"I thought probably all three facets of the game we weren't at our sharpest today, and I thought the West Indies bowled excellently," he said.
"Their catching was brilliant today and they had one guy who chanced his arm towards the end.
"It was close. We fought hard, but realistically we probably didn't deserve to win."
The West Indies weren't perfect either, but they will be pleased with the step up from their test performances.
Captain Dwayne Bravo said his side watched Invictus, Clint Eastwood's film on the courageous South African effort to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup, on Christmas Day - and planned on using it to will them on for the remainder of the tour.
"That inspired us," he said. "We are fortunate to represent our nations. We are only a few players to do that."
The Black Caps time at the crease was their worst against the West Indies since playing them in Southampton in 1999.
Only the skipper and his older brother Nathan, who ended on 47, showed backbone in the Black Caps' well below-par batting effort; with a lack of intention, and poor shot selection, present from the outset.
Only two other New Zealanders made it out of single figures.
Returning openers Ryder and Martin Guptill (2) both failed, as did Ross Taylor (3), Kane Williamson (8), Corey Anderson (13) and Luke Ronchi (7), who came and went, leaving the Black Caps in the mire at 66 for 6.
Brendon McCullum fought at his end, with a boundary into, and six over, square leg off Sammy his most eye-catching shots.
His wicket was the one that mattered for the West Indies, and, after he became the third New Zealander to bring up 5000 one-day runs, it came - in controversial fashion.
Umpire Gary Baxter judged the New Zealand skipper out leg-before off Dwayne Bravo, despite McCullum being at least two metres out of his crease. McCullum referred the decision to the third umpire, who, in turn, referred the call back to the on-field umpire as it was just flicking the bails.
New Zealand looked doomed for a record low total against the West Indies, but the older McCullum stepped up for a measured innings late on.
McClenaghan removed the middle stumps of both of the West Indies' openers, early in the Black Caps bowling effort.
His next wicket would be Darren Bravo, the victim of superb low Kane Williamson catch at point for 14, before his brother Dwayne was trapped leg-before for 12.
The West Indies looked to engineer a top order collapse of Kiwi proportions, with Lendl Simmons the lone island of resistance.
Simmons, whose best shot was a clean cut through point off James Neesham, would then lose his wicket in peculiar circumstances.
On 34, he edged a Mills delivery to Taylor at first slip.
The ball looked to have bounced and was referred to the third umpire, but the decision stood, yet again. Sammy battled on, however, ensuring the tourists would get home.
MJ Guptill lbw b R Rampaul 2
JD Ryder c DM Bravo b R Rampaul 0
KS Williamson c D Ramdin b JO Holder 8
LRPL Taylor run out (JO Holder) 3
BB McCullum lbw b DJ Bravo 51
CJ Anderson c LMP Simmons b DJ Bravo 13
L Ronchi c J Charles b SP Narine 7
JDS Neesham c DM Bravo b DJ Bravo 10
NL McCullum c DM Bravo b JO Holder 47
KD Mills c DJG Sammy b DJ Bravo 3
MJ McClenaghan not out 3
Extras (lb 6, wd 3, nb 0) 9
Total (for 10 wickets, 42.1 overs) 156
Fall: 1-2 (JD Ryder, 1.6), 2-3 (MJ Guptill, 3.6), 3-10 (LRPL Taylor, 6.4), 4-32 (KS Williamson, 11.1), 5-57 (CJ Anderson, 16.6), 6-66 (L Ronchi, 19.1), 7-93 (JDS Neesham, 26.4), 8-104 (BB McCullum, 30.1), 9-112 (KD Mills, 32.5), 10-156 (NL McCullum, 42.1)
Bowling: JO Holder 7.1-1-21-2 (3w, R Rampaul 9-0-27-2, DJG Sammy 6-0-30-0, SP Narine 10-2-28-1, DJ Bravo 10-0-44-4