New Zealand greeted international cricket back in the country with a thrilling five-wicket victory in the first Twenty20 against West Indies on Friday.
Kieron Pollard’s blistering 75 not out powered West Indies to a commanding 180 for 7 in the Auckland contest which was reduced to 16-overs-a-side following rain interruptions.
New Zealand’s top order let them down but Jimmy Neesham forged important partnerships with debutant Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner to seal victory with four balls to spare.
This was the first international match in New Zealand since the Christchurch Test against India that ended on Mar 2. “It was a very strange game but nice to come out the right side,” said home captain Tim Southee, leading the side in absence of Kane Williamson.
The first five overs of the match contained plenty of the drama, including a couple of rain interruptions.
Put into bat, West Indies plundered 55 runs off the first three overs before the host staged a remarkable comeback.
Lockie Ferguson’s (5 for 21) double strikes triggered a spectacular collapse as West Indies slumped from 58 for no loss to 59 for 5 in the space of 12 deliveries.
Pollard not only arrested the slide but also launched a blistering counter-attack, smashing eight sixes in his 37-ball blitz.
New Zealand’s top order wilted early but Neesham, who remained not out on 48, partnered Conway to revive their chase before pulling it off in company of Santner (31 not out).
“I hope the crowd enjoyed it,” Pollard said.
“It was a topsy-turvy game. A bit of indiscipline showed for us, in the bowling, and losing five wickets in that space of time in the batting too.”
The teams now move to Mount Maunganui for the last two Twenty20 matches, to be played on Sunday and Monday, before a two-Test series between them.