The early bird often gets the worm, but there is an equally good chance of nocturnal birds catching it. There are also significantly different approaches to ODI cricket. New Zealand are a disciplined team, insistent on doing the basics right. West Indies rely on their strength: a batting approach that revolves around attempting to find the boundary more often than gaps through the field. The longer the duration of a game, the better the chances of discipline trumping aggression.
West Indies weren’t able to sustain their ODI perspective, but New Zealand were as they limited the visitors to 248 for 9 in the first ODI in Whangarei. Evin Lewis and then Rovman Powell struck fifties, while Doug Bracewell, on his return to international cricket after pleading guilty to a drink-driving offence, picked up 4 for 55 from eight overs.
Chris Gayle and Lewis began cautiously, playing out three successive maidens. The first five overs produced four runs. Both batsmen soon found their hitting rhythm, combining for five fours and a six in a 40-run opening stand. At no point did they consider singles as a scoring option. Bracewell then had Gayle caught behind off his first ball. A thick inside edge had Shai Hope two balls later.
West Indies enjoyed their best period of batting thereafter, as Shimron Hetmyer and Lewis picked their deliveries to score off. Unsurprisingly, both batsmen were in most control when they were attacking. Hetmyer, though, failed to pick a googly from ODI debutant Todd Astle in the 24th over, chipping a catch to long-off.
As has happened so often on their tour already, West Indies’ middle order was again done in by a combination of pace and the lack of it. Lockie Ferguson, generating 145-kmph speeds, had Jason Mohammed caught on the crease and chopping onto his stumps. Jason Holder was caught at gully, a one-handed stunner from Ross Taylor to his right, off a legcutter from Bracewell. West Indies had quickly slumped from 103 for 2 to 134 for 5.
More to follow..