Black Caps bounce back with stunning ODI win
Just when everybody was ready to write the New Zealand cricket team off, they conjure up this.
Not only have they kept the one-day international series alive with their first win of the tour, they've done it emphatically with a 88-run victory over the West Indies in the third ODI at St Kitts today (NZT).
The tourists still face a 2-1 series deficit, but today's performance will give them plenty of hope.
Their belief has always been that if they could get some runs on the board and dismiss Chris Gayle early, they'd be able to put enough pressure on that the home team would crack.
For the first time on tour, that's exactly what transpired at Warner Park.
Sure, 249-9 was hardly an imposing total, but it was enough to be competitive and from the moment Gayle was dismissed in the ninth over for 11, with the total at 33-2, New Zealand sensed an opportunity to pounce.
They did so with a concerted bowling effort and some magnificent fielding, dismissing the Windies for 161 in the 35th over despite some lusty late hitting from tailender Andre Russell, who was unbeaten on 42.
Gayle had been in irresistible form during the two T20s and first two ODIs, but for the first time he looked troubled during his 22-ball innings and Tim Southee was the man to exploit this, finding the edge and having him caught at slip by Rob Nicol.
So for once, the Windies weren't able to rely on Gayle, and their top and middle order folded.
Southee also produced some heroics in the field to run out Dwayne Bravo (2) with a strong throw from the outfield, while Johnson Charles was trapped in front for 15 by debutant Trent Boult, Dwayne Smith was excellently caught by Nathan McCullum for 19, and Marlon Samuels was run out for 11 by a Martin Guptill bullet after a brilliant piece of fielding at cover, as the hosts crumbled to 62-5.
Southee (1-14 off six), McCullum (2-40), Boult (2-45) and Jacob Oram (2-22 off seven) continued to apply the pressure with the ball while captain Kane Williamson chipped in with another superb run-out, the third of the innings, as the hosts capitulated.
Only No 10 Russell, with a quickfire 42 that included four sixes, passed 20. He ensured the Windies weren't completed routed after they had collapsed to 103-8.
Earlier, New Zealand failed to produce the hundreds and big partnerships they had talked about, but they were still able to post a respectable 249-9 without imposing themselves at any stage after being sent in.
Opener Rob Nicol, with 59 from 69 balls, led the way during the first half of the innings while New Zealand's best batsmen on tour, BJ Watling, and allrounder McCullum put together 66 for the sixth wicket.
Watling scored 40 from 47 balls and McCullum, who had a fine allround match, made 50 from 70 balls, but the tourists lost wickets too regularly to post a massive score.
Paceman Russell took 4-57 while spinner Sunil Narine claimed 2-28 off 10 overs as he continued to cause New Zealand's batsmen trouble.
The win was marred by more further injury woe, however, with Watling straining his left quadricep while batting. He received treatment from the team physiotherapist when on five runs and managed to bat on, but he took no further part in the match.
Watling will be monitored and assessed over the next 24 hours to determine his management and availability for the remainder of this series.
Brendon McCullum, who arrived in St Kitts yesterday, will be available for selection for the fourth and fifth ODIs.
The fourth match is at the same Basseterre venue on Sunday morning (NZT).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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