A savage spell of fast bowling from Lockie Ferguson and an unbeaten 48 from Jimmy Neesham propelled New Zealand to a five-wicket win over the West Indies in the series-opening Twenty20 international on Friday.
Neesham produced his highest score in T20 internationals and combined in partnerships of 77 with Devon Conway (41) and 39, unbroken, with Mitchell Santner (31 not out) to see New Zealand home with four balls to spare.
In a rain-interrupted match decided under the Duckworth-Lewis system, New Zealand replied with 176-5 to the West Indies’ total of 180-7.
The West Indies owed its competitive total to captainKieron Pollard, who scored a career-best 75 not out from 37 balls.
Pollard added a powerful finish to a West Indies innings reduced by rain to 16 overs, striking four sixes and eight fours to lift his team to 180-7 as it batted first after losing the toss.
In an innings which ebbed and flowed around three rain breaks, the West Indies blasted their way to 58 without loss after 3-2 overs, then lost five wickets for one run in the face of Ferguson’s onslaught.
Ferguson, who was a hot property in this season’s Indian Premier League, was only released from managed isolation on his return to New Zealand on the day before the match.
He took a wicket with his first ball, added another in the same over and ended with 5-21 — becoming only the second New Zealander after Tim Southee to take five wickets in a T20 international.
“I thought the boys started out okay,” Ferguson said. “A bit of bad luck happens at this ground.