Fletcher half-century in vain as Black Caps grab opener

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – Andre Fletcher’s second half-century in Twenty20 Internationals was in vain as West Indies lost the opening match of the doubleheader against New Zealand by 12 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis method here yesterday.

Sent in at Windsor Park, the Windies mustered 132 for eight in a match reduced to 18 overs per side because of rain, with the right-handed Fletcher striking the top score of 52 from 39 balls.

In reply, the Black Caps had reached 117 for four after 15 overs, when bad light stopped play.

The end proved anticlimactic as the game was shaping up for an interesting finish, with the visitors needing 16 runs from 18 balls.

Captain Brendon McCullum top scored with 40 from 35 balls while the enterprising Ross Taylor was unbeaten on 28 from 20 deliveries.

Captain Darren Sammy, in his first game for the Windies since being axed as Test captain, finished with three for 23 from his three overs.

Earlier, West Indies were off to a poor start, losing both openers cheaply to stumble to ten for two in the third over.

Lendl Simmons fell lbw to left-arm seamer Trent Boult in the second over for one and Dwayne Smith was taken on the deep mid-wicket boundary off seamer Tim Southee for eight.

Fletcher, voted Man-of-the-Match, then put on 88 for the third wicket with left-hander Darren Bravo who scored 30, as West Indies rebuilt. The pair shrugged aside a 1-1/2 hour break for rain to lay the platform for a challenging total with Fletcher hitting a four and four sixes and Bravo hammering two sixes, in 28 balls at the crease.

Bravo looked in good touch, getting off the mark with an upper-cut for six off Boult prior to the rain break before clearing long on with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi on resumption.

Fletcher was equally as fluent, belting Boult over long on for six in the first over after the interruption, before clearing the straight boundary with Sodhi and following up with a four in the same area, in the bowler’s second over which cost 15 runs.

They were separated in the 13th over at 98 for three when Bravo top-edged a short ball from seamer Corey Anderson behind to wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and Fletcher followed seven balls later, squirting Sodhi to Boult at third man, to leave the Windies on 104 for four in the 15h over.

Man-of-the-Match Andre Fletcher goes on the attack during his top score of 52 on Saturday. (Photo courtesy WICB Media)
Man-of-the-Match Andre Fletcher goes on the attack during his top score of 52 on Saturday. (Photo courtesy WICB Media)

Kieron Pollard lashed a run-a-ball 16 and Sammy struck a four and a six in scoring ten, as the Windies scrambled precious runs at the end.

Seamers Tim Southee (2-20), Boult (2-28) and Anderson (2-32) picked up two wickets apiece.

Left-arm pacer Krishmar Santokie then struck early for West Indies, prising out the dangerous Jimmy Neesham for 11 in the second over of the innings where the left-hander had already blasted a six and a four.

McCullum and Williamson, who got 19 from 18 balls, put on 53 for the second wicket to put New Zealand back on course. The right-handed McCullum hit three fours and a six while Williamson struck two fours before becoming Sammy’s first victim, brilliantly caught and bowled in the ninth over.

Taylor arrived to blast two sixes and a four – all in one over from pacer Andre Russell – in a 30-run stand with McCullum who eventually perished in the 13th over, pulling Sammy to Smith in the deep at 95 for three.

With conditions worsening, Anderson struck a few lusty blows in scoring 15 from nine balls to ensure New Zealand were ahead on the D/L method, before popping a catch to short fine leg off Sammy.

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