A blistering Ross Taylor century in his comeback match was too little, too late for New Zealand who lost the one-day international cricket series to the West Indies in St Kitts today.
Despite Taylor's 110 off 115 balls, New Zealand lost by 24 runs in game four, chasing 265 to win. It saw the West Indies clinch the ODI series 3-1 with a match to spare, which they will play at the same venue on Tuesday.
In captain Taylor's first match since damaging his left shoulder in the tour opener on July 1, he so nearly inspired his side home to keep the series alive with his sixth ODI century, but lacked crucial support. It was Taylor's first ODI since October last year, against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, due to a run of injuries including a torn calf, a broken arm, and then his shoulder problem in Florida.
He hit six fours and five sixes, and after taking 21 off an Andre Russell over, the 43rd of the innings, New Zealand needed 50 off 42 balls.
But the return of speedster Tino Best did the trick as Taylor skied a catch in the 49th over, and West Indies spinner Sunil Narine applied the brakes. Best ended with 4-46 and Narine, who has caused New Zealand problems the entire series, took 2-20 off 10 overs. The tourists were dismissed for 240 with three balls to spare.
Opener Rob Nicol's 35 was New Zealand's next best score as Taylor played a largely lone hand.
Taylor and Brendon McCullum returned to bolster the tourists' batting but they were soon struggling, slumping to 75-4.
Martin Guptill's woes continued as he was beaten for pace by Best, lbw for nought.
McCullum, originally down to miss the ODIs before he was summoned ahead of schedule, scored 10 before he attempted an ambitious pull shot off Andre Russell and was caught at short mid-wicket.
Young Tom Latham, handed the wicketkeeping gloves when BJ Watling (quadricep) was ruled out, laboured over his 32 off 62 balls but added 71 with Taylor for the fifth wicket to at least give the skipper a platform to launch from.
New Zealand snared the prized wicket of Chris Gayle cheaply for a second successive match but it didn't stop the West Indies setting a challenging total of 264 after they won the toss.
Taylor's inspired bowling change in the sixth over did the trick as Tim Southee removed Gayle with his first delivery, lbw for 16. Southee, summoned to the test squad to replace the injured Mark Gillespie, snared two wickets in his first over as he nicked out Dwayne Smith without scoring.
Southee ended with 3-53 as the West Indies were dismissed off the penultimate delivery of the innings.
Kieron Pollard (56) and Marlon Samuels (46) were the main contributors while Jacob Oram was the pick with the ball, taking 3-42. Doug Bracewell, returning for Kyle Mills, was expensive in taking 1-58.
R Nicol c Bravo b Sammy 35(32)
M Guptill lbw b Best 0(3)
B McCullum c Sammy b Russell 10(18)
R Taylor c Sammy b Best 110(115)
K Williamson lbw b Narine 3(12)
T Latham c Thomas b Samuels 32(62)
N McCullum c Sammy b Best 11(19)
J Oram b Best 6(18)
D Bracewell c Pollard b Narine 5(9)
T. Southee run out (Thomas) 3(8)
T Boult not out 1(2)
Extras(5b, 10lb, 1nb, 8w) 24
New Zealand 240
FOW 1/8, 2/50, 3/63, 4/75, 5/146, 6/170, 7/219, 8/234, 9/237, 10/240Over 49.3
Bowling O M R W
T Best 10 1 46 4
A Russell 6 0 49 1
D Sammy 10 1 41 1
S Narine 10 1 20 2
M Samuels 10 0 50 1
D Bravo 3.3 0 19 0
J Charles c Williamson b Bracewell 1(16)
C Gayle lbw b Southee 16(17)
D Smith c Taylor b Southee 0(5)
M Samuels lbw b McCullum 46(64)
D Bravo c Boult b Oram 18(35)
K Pollard c McCullum b Oram 56(70)
D Thomas c Taylor b Nicol 37(43)
D Sammy c Guptill b Boult 26(22)
A Russell c Guptill b Oram 29(16)
S Narine not out 6(7)
T Best b Southee 3(5)
Extras (5lb, 1nb, 20w) 26
West Indies 264
FOW 1/17, 2/19, 3/20, 4/59, 5/105, 6/190, 7/202, 8/234, 9/258, 10/264
Bowling O M R W
D Bracewell 10 2 58 1
T Boult 10 2 47 1
T Southee 9.5 1 53 3
J Oram 10 1 42 3
N McCullum 4 0 34 1
R Nicol 6 1 25 1
Which batting pair would be best at opening in ODIs for the Black Caps?