West Indies tasted success for the first time on its tour of New Zealand when it scraped home by two wickets in the first One-Day International on Thursday (December 26). After rolling over New Zealand for a modest 156 in 42.1 overs, West Indies worked hard to reach the target in 27.3 overs.
An unbeaten 43 from Darren Sammy in 27 balls took it over the line as wickets fell regularly at the other end. With two wickets in hand, Sammy knocked off the final ten runs with a six and a four off Mitchell McClenaghan to seal the win.
Despite the narrow margin of the win, it was a change of fortunes for a side comprehensively outplayed during its 2-0 loss to New Zealand in the Test series.
“There is some work to do with our batting but a win is a win and it will ease a lot of pressure on us," said Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies ODI captain. "Darren Sammy is leader of the fielding group and I think the energy in the field was what set the scene for the win for us, and he finished it with the bat."
Meanwhile, Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, said his side did not deserve to win. “We kept picking up wickets at key times and in the end it was a pretty close game but it was a thoroughly deserved win for the West Indies. They outplayed us in all three facets of the game," he said.
Although its batting remained fragile, the introduction of its ODI specialists unleashed a West Indies bowling attack that New Zealand failed to handle on a seamer-friendly pitch. Any confidence New Zealand took from the Tests quickly evaporated when it was sent into bat and faced new arrivals Ravi Rampaul, Dwayne Bravo and Jason Holder.
Jesse Ryder, the opener, did not have the kind of comeback he would have wanted. After facing just five balls, he slashed at a wide Rampaul delivery to be caught by Darren Bravo at cover point before opening his account.
His failure signalled the start of a disappointing batting performance, which was only rescued by the McCullum brothers Brendon (51) and Nathan (47). They contributed 98 of the 156 runs New Zealand managed to score, with the remaining nine batsmen scoring a total of just 49 runs with nine extras.
Martin Guptill was trapped lbw by Rampaul before Ross Taylor, who was the hero of the Test series, went back. Following the dismissals of Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi, New Zealand slumped to 66 for 6. Following his stand with his brother, Nathan McCullum put together 44 for the last wicket with McClenaghan, who scored three.
Dwayne Bravo returned figures of 4 for 44 while Rampaul and Holder took two wickets apiece.
What should have been a simple run chase for West Indies started off badly when McClenaghan bowled Kieran Powell in the second over of the innings. Like New Zealand, the West Indies top order could not establish a partnership as Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo and Dwayne Bravo all fell to McClenaghan, who finished with figures of 5 for 58.
Lendl Simmons arrested the slide with a positive innings, reaching 34 before he was given out caught by Taylor off Kyle Mills. Taylor was unsure if he had taken the ball cleanly and it took several highly-magnified replays before the umpires ruled that his fingertips were just under the ball. Narsingh Deonarine, Denesh Ramdin and Holder offered little fight, leaving it to Sammy to bring up the winning runs.