Hungry, sore and defeated, Ross Taylor had a few reasons to be punching the wall of the New Zealand team's St Kitts dressing room last night.
In his comeback match from a shoulder injury, the New Zealand captain blasted what should have been a match-winning 110 in the fourth one-day international. Instead, he was digesting a 3-1 series defeat after their 24-run loss to the West Indies, and eyeing tomorrow's final ODI as a face-saving exercise ahead of the two-test series.
"I didn't have any lunch so I'm pretty hungry and when you're hungry you get a little bit grumpy," he quipped.
“We were in a position to win the game in the first and second innings and we weren't good enough. We've still got an opportunity to make it 3-2 and take some momentum into the test series." Taylor's was a remarkable performance, just two weeks since damaging the AC joint in his left shoulder while diving for a catch in the Twenty20 opener. Still in pain, which worsened after he fell while dropping a catch yesterday, he'd declared himself fit after a net on Saturday.
As New Zealand chased 265 to win, Taylor just needed support as he hit six fours and five sixes to notch his sixth ODI hundred.
It was back-to-back ODI centuries for Taylor, both in a losing cause. He hit 119 in Bulawayo, in October, in New Zealand's surprise defeat, then missed their next nine ODIs with a torn calf, then the latest shoulder problem, either side of a broken forearm.
No-one else stood up, though, as paceman Tino Best (4-46) finally removed Taylor who skied one in the 49th over. Rob Nicol's 35 was next best while Brendon McCullum, in his first match since the Indian Premier League, played a loose pull shot on 10.
Spinner Sunil Narine was treated with caution, and took 2-20 to leave his series figures at a dominant 40-3-119-8.
"We talked a lot about partnerships and we didn't get that. There were a couple of soft dismissals," Taylor said. "The way Tom [Latham] and I batted, we just blocked it and got the odd single and we did come very close. It shows we need to give ourselves a bit more time and our guys are good enough to catch up."
New Zealand were chasing 30-40 more than they should have, after another solid start with the ball.
Their bowler of the series, test callup Tim Southee (3-53), trapped Chris Gayle lbw for 16 with his first delivery and removed Dwayne Smith in the same over.
Jacob Oram (3-42) was the pick as the West Indies slumped to 105-5 in the 27th over, but the middle and lower order hit out, led by Kieron Pollard's 56.
The fielding wasn't as sharp as game three, Taylor noted, and the death bowling was also patchy.
So tomorrow's dead rubber is important for key test batsmen Martin Guptill, McCullum and Kane Williamson to get time in the middle.
The test specialists, Daniel Vettori, Chris Martin, Kruger van Wyk and Neil Wagner, are preparing in Antigua for Saturday's warm up game, while the in-form BJ Watling (quadricep) is expected to miss that game but be available for the first test on July 26.
- The Dominion Post