Windies chasing series after opening defeat

Rovman Powell goes on the attack during his half-century in the opening One-Day International against New Zealand. (Photo courtesy CWI Media)

WHANGAREI, New Zealand, CMC – West Indies were left to chase their three-match series against New Zealand after unconvincing batting, coupled with a subdued bowling effort, left them with a five-wicket defeat in the opening One-Day International here yesterday.

Sent in at Cobham Oval, West Indies got contrasting half-centuries from opener Evin Lewis who top-scored with 76 off 100 deliveries and Rovman Powell, who struck 59 off 50 balls down the order.

Debutant 20-year-old Shimron Hetmyer (29) and Chris Gayle (22) got starts but failed to convert, leaving the Caribbean side well short of a competitive total at 248 for nine off their 50 overs.

Doug Bracewell

Seamer Doug Bracewell shone on his return to the host side, picking up four for 55 while debutant leg-spinner Todd Astle claimed three for 33 and speedster Lockie Ferguson, two for 49.

With the pressure immediately on the Windies bowlers, they proved loose early on, allowing opener George Worker to post a career-best 57 while Ross Taylor stroked an unbeaten 49 and Colin Munro, 49.

Captain Kane Williamson chimed in with 38, as the Black Caps eased to victory with 24 balls remaining.

Skipper Jason Holder (2-52) and off-spinner Ashley Nurse (2-55) ended with two wickets apiece.

Lewis and Gayle had earlier handed the Windies a solid start, posting 40 for the first wicket before wickets tumbled in clusters.

The left-handed Gayle started slowly but threatened to explode when he clobbered three fours and a giant six – the latter a clean blow down the ground off seamer Tim Southee.

But Gayle nibbled at one from Bracewell at the start of the 10th and was caught at the wicket and Shai Hope followed off the next legitimate delivery, given out caught behind off the inside edge, though subsequent DRS replays yielded little conclusive evidence of an edge.

Lewis, who counted seven fours and a six in his knock, then put on 62 with left-hander Hetmyer to prop up the innings, with both playing freely before another collapse ensued.

Hetmyer holed out to long off in the 24th over off Astle, triggering a slide that saw the Caribbean side lose three wickets for 31 runs to slip to 134 for five in the 31st over.

Lewis, who posted his first ODI half-century off 77 balls in the 28th over, revived the innings as he paired with Powell to add a further 43 for the sixth wicket.

Seemingly cruising towards a third hundred, Lewis was the victim of a poor decision when he was adjudged lbw in the 36th over after missing a sweep at a googly from Astle, with replays showing the ball clearly missing off-stump.

His was one of three wickets to tumble for 24 runs, leaving the Windies tottering on 201 for eight but the right-handed Powell, who blasted two fours and four sixes, ensured a rollicking end to the innings as he put on 45 for the ninth with Kesrick Williams (16 not out).

New Zealand were gifted easy runs early on in their run chase as the Windies seamers found themselves either too full or short, allowing Worker and Munro to dominate in a 108-run opening stand.

Worker struck eight fours in a 66-ball knock while Munro also crunched eight fours in his 36-ball stay at the crease.

Pacer Williams got the breakthrough when the left-handed Munro drove a simple catch to Nurse at short cover in the 17th over, and Worker followed in the next over when he was bowled by Nurse trying to cut one too close to him.

On 118 for two, the Black Caps were steadied by a 57-run, third wicket stand between Taylor and Williamson which put the hosts in sight of victory.

Taylor faced 76 balls and counted only two fours in a composed knock while Williamson was more expansive, striking five boundaries off 45 balls.

When Williamson played on to Holder in the 32nd over, Taylor remained solid to add 26 for the fourth with Tom Latham (17) and 29 for the fifth with Henry Nicholls (17) to see New Zealand to a 1-0 lead in the series.

The second ODI will be played in Christchurch on Saturday.

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