Those watching the first T20 between New Zealand and West Indies were greeted with an absolute thriller, with both teams playing excellent, competitive cricket. However, the elements played arguably the biggest role, and the visitors will feel short-changed by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern system with due reason. A lot of things about the first match were remarkable, and here we are again to go through 5 talking points from the first T20 between New Zealand vs West Indies.
1. A pathetic upper-middle order
After Andre Fletcher gave the West Indies a powerful start, they seemed to be setting up for a massive total when they - in a way only the West Indies can - lost four wickets without the scoreboard ticking, and another one run later. It’s utterly ridiculous that so many batsmen fell like dominoes and even wasted a good 10 deliveries. It’s also a mark of just how strong this West Indies lineup is that even after this horrific collapse, they still managed to score 180 in just 16 overs.
2. Kieron Pollard. Enough said.
When his team seemed to be falling apart at the seams, Kieron Pollard just came in and started hitting the ball around the park like it was a Sunday League match. This is far from the first or last time we will see such batting from this man, but one has to stand in awe of just how able he is of utterly dominating entire bowling batteries. After being 58 for 5, he came back with 75 from 37 and could only be stopped by the gods themselves. If cricket had a hall of fame, rest assured this guy’s name would be in the topmost echelon for the T20 format.
3. The pain of rain
While the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern system is a necessary evil, one can’t help but curse its side effects resulting in countless ‘ruined’ matches. Given how Kieron Pollard was going today, there’s every chance that he could have taken the score well into the 200s, making it a much harder target to chase down in 20 overs. New Zealand will be glad for now, but they well know the pain of cricket rules that ruin matches, having lost the previous World Cup final because of, of all things, the number of fours each team scored.
4. Lockie Ferguson’s five-for
When you’ve got teammates giving away over 20 an over, and only the most experienced of hands able to hold his own, it’s understandable if you fail to hold your nerves as a youngster. Lockie Ferguson, however, had other plans. Not only did he keep his economy rate limited to a ridiculous 5.25, but he also picked up 5 crucial wickets. It was an incredible performance by the youngster, and he’s proving to be a fantastic addition to an already talented squad.
5. The blessing of a target and a bowling lineup that lacks conviction and edge
When a team doesn’t have a target and just cruises along with the bat, they sometimes lack the urgency and intent of scoring every possible run. New Zealand, blessed with the DLS-assisted target of 177 from 16 overs, played a brand of cricket reminiscent to a certain degree of the Netherlands’ famous 13.5 over chase of Ireland’s 189 in 2014. However, one of the culprits of this was the seemingly listless bowling of West Indies. A perennial bowling powerhouse, the Windies seem to be lacking some of that firepower at the moment. Only Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas were decent, and Kieron Pollard tried - albeit too late.
What’s next for New Zealand and the West Indies?
Going forward, Pollard’s squad badly needs to address their bowling woes as well as fix whatever on Earth is wrong with their paperlike middle order. New Zealand, on the other hand, will be hoping their other bowlers also strike, and especially that Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill, the two most experienced batsmen by some stretch, find form. The second match of the series will take place at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui at 6:30AM on November 29th.
How our predictions went
The rain may just have taken West Indies’ win away, and even the toss went to New Zealand. Devon Conway was narrowly beaten as the top NZ batsman by James Neesham, and none of the batsmen tipped to score a 50 managed to do so. Bowling predictions also fell flat, and the teams were even on fours scored, but at the very least, WI had the most sixes with one extra. Yay predictions.