Windies skipper Pooran upbeat despite N'Zealand defeat
Shimron Hetmyer of West Indies takes the catch to dismiss Martin Guptill of New Zealand during the first Twenty20 match at Sabina Park in Kingston on Wednesday. (Photos: AFP)

Despite coming out on the losing end in the first of their three-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand, West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran took some pleasure in his team's performance as they just fell 13 runs shy of what would have been a welcome victory.

Too late was the cry for Pooran and his young hapless outfit, who entered Wednesday's opening contest on the back of a 1-4 series loss to number-one ranked India, as it took a record eighth-wicket partnership of 58 runs from 26 balls between Romario Shepherd and local boy Odean Smith to get West Indies close to New Zealand's total of 185-5, at 172-7.

Shepherd's unbeaten knock of 31 from 16 balls included three big sixes and a four, while Smith's 12-ball 27 not out had four boundaries and one six, as they did some damage and, by extension, gave the small crowd of just under 500 in the 15,000 capacity Sabina Park something to smile about.

Opening batsman Shamarh Brooks also offered some resistance for West Indies, rated seventh in the world, with 42 from 43, inclusive of two fours and three sixes.

Earlier, Smith's bowling pace ended with career-best figures of 3-32 from his four overs, but couldn't deny the number-five ranked New Zealand their match-winning total.

Captain Kane Williamson led the Black Caps with 47 off 33 balls, including four boundaries and two sixes, while Devon Conway's 29-ball 43 had the same number of boundaries. James Neesham propped up the target to what it was with a cameo of 33 off 15 balls, that had three fours and two sixes.

"I think we were really happy to chase 185, I think as a bowling unit we were excellent except for the last over but I think we are getting better as a group so I am happy with the performance of the bowlers today (yesterday)," Pooran said in a post-game television interview.

Pooran won the toss and opted to bowl first, but that decision proved painful against a full-strength New Zealand outfit.

With the pitch dry and hard, and producing some degree of bounce, New Zealand's opening pair of Martin Guptill and Devon Conway took the West Indies bowlers to task, piling on 62 before both were removed minutes apart in the eighth over by Smith.

The pacer first had Guptill (16) brilliantly caught by Shimron Hetmyer in the deep, after which Conway's missed-timed pull looped to wicketkeeper Devon Thomas.

However, Williamson and Glenn Phillips sustained the pressure before play was interrupted by rain with New Zealand at 95-2 after 11.2 overs.

When play resumed after just over two hours later, Jason Holder took pace off the final delivery of the 12th over which Phillips (17) spliced to Kyle Mayers at short fine leg.

As he did in dismissing Phillips, Holder again gave a slower delivery to the end the 14th over, and that lack of pace almost brought an end to Williamson's innings. The skipper's attempted pull spliced off the gloves but Mayers still posted at short fine leg, failed to hang on, on this occasion.

Williamson capitalised on the life giving taking 16 runs off the following over bowled by Romario Shepherd, including back-to-back boundaries and a massive maximum to push his team past the 130-run mark.

Still, the West Indies found success when Obed McCoy belatedly opted to go pace off and had the dangerous Daryl Micthell caught behind for 16, after the previous delivery was hit into the stands.

Smith returned to account for Williamson with the back of a length delivery that the New Zealand skipper went for cross-batted near waist high, but Hayden Walsh diving full stretch pulled off another dazzling catch at deep square leg.

But the lack of killer instincts in the hosts again came to the fore, as New Zealand took 34 overs off the last two overs, with the left-handed Neesham doing most damage, taking 23 off Holder's final over to complete what was already looking to be a daunting total.

In their reply, West Indies stumbled to 49-4 inside seven overs.

Tim Southee got things going for New Zealand when he fired in a lovely in-swinging delivery that trapped Mayers (one) in front and Pooran (15) later went for a disappointing pull shot off Mitchell Santner's first ball, and holed out to Phillips.

Wicketkeeper/batsman Devon Thomas (one) followed suit shortly after, as he failed to negotiate Lockie Ferguson's pacy back of a length delivery outside off stump and top edged to Ish Sodhi at short fine leg, after which the left-handed Shimron Hetmyer (two) offered Neesham catching practice off Santner.

Brooks's patient innings almost came to an end and was adjudged leg-before-wicket to Sodhi in the eigth over, but the decision was reversed on the review.

He stuck around a bit longer, before succumbing to the pressure and was caught in the deep by Mitchell after attempting a late backfoot pull off a quicker delivery from Santner.

Rovman Powell came and entertained the small crowd, hitting Sodhi out the park during his knock of 18, but the leg spinner had the last laugh, thanks to a well-judged running catch by Neesham after the Jamaican mistimed a slog across the line against the turn.

Poor timing also accounted for Jason Holder, who made 25 off 19 as he offered a simple catch to Phillips on the cow corner in the 16th.

With 71 to get from 26 balls, all that was left for Shepherd and Smith to do was enjoy themselves to the end, and that they did.

Scoreboard

NEW ZEALAND

M Guptill c Hetmyer b Smith 16

+D Conway c wkp Thomas b Smith 43

*K Williamson c Walsh b Smith 47

G Phillips c Mayers b Holder 17

D Mitchell c wkp Thomas b McCoy 16

J Neesham not out 33

M Santner not out 4

Extras (w9) 9

TOTAL (5 wkts, 20 overs) 185

Did not bat: I Sodhi, T Southee, L

Ferguson, T Boult

Fall of wickets: 1-62, 2-62, 3-98, 4-144,

5-149

Bowling: Mayers 1-0-8-0 (w1), Holder

4-0-42-1 (w1), McCoy 4-0-39-1 (w3),

Shepherd 3-0-35-0, Walsh 4-0-29-0

(w1), Smith 4-0-32-3 (w3)

WEST INDIES

K Mayers lbw b Southee 1

S Brooks c Mitchell b Santner 42

N Pooran c Phillips b Santner 15

+D Thomas c Sodhi b Ferguson 1

S Hetmyer c Neesham b Santner 2

J Holder c Phillips b Boult 25

R Powell c Neesham b Sodhi 18

R Shepherd not out 31

O Smith not out 27

Extras (lb 4, w6) 10

TOTAL (7 wkts, 20 overs) 172

Did not bat: H Walsh, O McCoy

Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-39, 3-41, 4-49,

5-79, 6-107, 7-114

Bowling: Boult 4-0-36-1, Southee 4-0-

46-1 (w1), Santner 4-0-18-3 (w2),

Ferguson 4-0-33-1 (w3), Sodhi 4-0-34-1

Result: New Zealand won by 13 runs.

Series: New Zealand lead three-match

series 1-0.

Man-of-the-Match: Mitchell Santner.

Toss: West Indies.

Umpires: Nigel Duguid, Patrick Gustard

TV umpire: Gregory Brathwaite.

Kane Williamson of New Zealand hits a six during the first Twenty20 International match against West Indies at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, on Wednesday.
Sherdon Cowan

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