1st T20I: Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham star as New Zealand beat West Indies to take 1-0 series lead

Jimmy Neesham, Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner starred for New Zealand as the tourists registered a 13-run win over West Indies to take a 1-0 lead in the first T20I of the three-match series at Sabina Park on Wednesday.

Neesham struck three fours from the last three balls and 23 runs from the last over of the innings as New Zealand made 185/5. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner took 3/19 as New Zealand restricted the West Indies to 172/7 in 20 overs.

“There was a lot of spins, which was a big surprise,” said Santner, who was voted player of the match. “I think the lengths are key against these guys. They can hit you pretty far, so the back of a length worked today and, as a unit, we were able to pick up wickets, which was pretty key.”

New Zealand’s innings had two parts, separated by a lengthy rain break. Openers Martin Guptill and Devon Conway gave the tourists a strong start, putting on 63 for the first wicket. But the pair fell to consecutive deliveries from Odean Smith, who went on to take career-best T20 figures of 3/32.

Guptill fell to a brilliant one-handed catch by Shimron Hetmeyer, who was backed up against the boundary at a deep point, while Conway’s innings of 43 from 29 ended when he top-edged a catch to wicketkeeper Devon Thomas.

The rain came in the 12th over with New Zealand on 95/2 and Williamson at the crease with Glenn Phillips. Players were off the field for almost two hours and when play resumed New Zealand immediately lost Phillips for 17.

The New Zealand innings briefly lost momentum but Williamson re-established the impetus of the innings by taking 33 runs from his next 18 deliveries. He finally was out to another brilliant catch on the boundary, this time from Hayden Walsh, who dashed from mid-wicket to pocket a comfortable catch at speed.

Neesham struck a six from the second ball of an over in which he also was dropped by Romario Shepherd from the bowling of Jason Holder. The West Indies paid the price with Neesham’s three fours from the last three balls.

“We want to get better as a group but in saying that I was happy with the performances,” West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran said. “Santner bowled very well and Ish (Sodhi) got away with a few.

“Scores above 175-180 are tricky for us. Unfortunately losing is contagious and we’re the losing side at the moment.”

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