Black Caps hammered in second T20 match
Bring on Jamaica; the Caribbean must surely bring better fortune for the New Zealand cricket team than their ill-fated foray to Florida.
It's certainly difficult to see things getting any worse than the two Twenty20 matches in the United States, following the West Indies' thumping 2-0 series victory.
On the back of a 56-run loss in yesterday's first match, which also brought injuries to Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram and Roneel Hira, New Zealand were as bad if not worse in a crushing 61-run defeat today.
The bowlers did a slightly better job than their shoddy, rust-laden first-up effort, though the West Indies still posted 177-5 batting first at Lauderhill and that was far too much for a limp New Zealand batting lineup which went backwards, fast, and could only post 116 all out in 18.4 overs.
The two teams head to Jamaica for the first of five one-day internationals, on Friday morning (NZT), with the Kiwis in search of some answers as well as a quick boost of form.
The major questions will be how to stop Chris Gayle from single-handedly destroying their bowling lineup, and how to stop canny spinner Sunil Narine from doing the same to their batsmen.
At first glance Narine looks innocuous enough but he moves the ball both ways with great subtlety and New Zealand had no answer to him.
After picking up three wickets in the opening match, he scalped Martin Guptill (18), Rob Nicol (7) and Dean Brownlie (1) inside the first nine overs of New Zealand's chase to effectively seal the series.
Guptill skied a big shot after being frustrated, Nicol was stumped off the very next ball, and Brownlie was cleaned out. Narine was inches away from a hat-trick, too, but Daniel Flynn's edge fell just short of Gayle at slip. He ended with 4-12 from four overs.
Add to the mix some average running - stand-in skipper Kane Williamson was a victim - and all in all it's hard to imagine a worse start to the tour than what has transpired.
In fairness, New Zealand were better in the field and with the ball than the opening match, hitting better lines and a fuller length while mixing up the pace. But there was still enough juicy fare on offer for Gayle and co.
The big-hitting left-hander again tormented the bowlers with 53 from 39 balls to top-score, and that after scoring just 13 from his first 20.
Doug Bracewell (1-43 from three) and Tim Southee (1-43 from four) took some tap, while Andrew Ellis (0-40 from four) conceded 15 runs off the final over, but Kyle Mills bounced back from an expensive first over to end with the excellent figures of 0-20 from four overs, including a remarkable maiden over to Gayle, and offpsinner Nathan McCullum snared a couple of crucial wickets in a respectable return of 2-19 from three.
There were just three wides and five extras in total, compared with yesterday's shoddy effort which yielded 12 wides and a whopping 20 extras.
The Windies' total was set up by a 72-run second wicket partnership between Gayle and Johnson Charles, who scored 36 from 32 balls, while Dwayne Bravo launched a late barrage of big hits with an unbeaten 35 from just 11 deliveries, including four sixes. The Windies smacked 13 maximums.
In the absence of regular captain Taylor, who injured a shoulder in the opening match, Williamson was named to skipper the national side for the first time while Flynn, who top scored with 23, came in.
Also out were allrounder Oram (knee) and spinner Hira (finger), with Ellis and Mills their replacements.
Oram sustained a knee injury during yesterday's Twenty20 and it had not healed sufficiently to be considered for selection, but team physiotherapist Paul Close was confident he would be right for Friday.
R. Nicol st Ramdin b Narine 7(12)
M. Guptill c Edwards b Narine 18(18)
T. Southee c Charles b Badree 3(5)
K. Williamson run out (Simmons) 6(5)
D. Flynn c Gayle b Samuels 22(19)
D. Brownlie b Narine 1(4)
T. Latham b Samuels 19(19)
N. McCullum c & b Bravo 14(15)
A. Ellis c Bravo b Narine 1(3)
D. Bracewell c Smith b Bravo 20(11)
K. Mills not out 1(1)
Extras (2lb, 2w) 4
New Zealand 116
FOW 1/26, 2/26, 3/33, 4/39, 5/43, 6/69, 7/85, 8/90, 9/114, 10/116
Bowling O M R W
F. Edwards 3 0 20 0
S. Badree 4 0 20 1
S. Narine 4 0 12 4
D. Sammy 2 0 14 0
D. Bravo 2.4 0 23 2
M. Samuels 3 0 25 2
D. Smith c & b Bracewell 13(8)
C. Gayle b McCullum 53(39)
J. Charles c Southee b Nicol 36(32)
L. Simmons c Southee b McCullum 18(16)
D. Sammy c Williamson b Southee 13(11)
D. Bravo not out 35(11)
M. Samuels not out 4(4)
D. Ramdin 0
F. Edwards 0
S. Badree 0
S. Narine 0
(1lb, 1nb, 3w) 5
West Indies 5/177
FOW 1/14, 2/86, 3/117, 4/124, 5/161
Bowling O M R W
K. Mills 4 1 20 0
D. Bracewell 3 0 43 1
T. Southee 4 0 43 1
A. Ellis 4 0 40 0
N. McCullum 3 0 19 2
R. Nicol 2 0 11 1
- Fairfax Media
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?