Overnight Jamaica time an epic sporting mismatch took place. Jesse Ryder demolished Mark Watson in a boxing match. Ryder was comprehensively better, and Watson really had very little to offer against Ryder’s power, precision and skill. A few hours a sporting mismatch of a similar magnitude took place at Sabina Park, this time with New Zealand playing the part of Mark Watson and West Indies taking on Jesse Ryder’s role.
Andre Russell celebrated being given one of the new balls by producing a demanding display of swing bowling that asked questions that Guptill, Flynn and Nicol were unable to answer.
Williamson looked like someone who was batting while thinking about other things. He is normally so clinical with his placement, and while he showed some nice touches, he managed to hit the fielders more than the gaps. At one point Sammy created a large gap for him at mid-wicket off Bravo, and almost had him the next ball, as Williamson got a leading edge while trying to hit a ball that was on off stump through that gap. It was field setting par excellence, something Sammy has not yet developed a reputation for. Finally Williamson fell for 24 with the score on 71.
At the other end, putting the batsmen under his spell was Sunil Narine. Watling didn’t get out to him, but never really looked comfortable. Brownlie, however was completely bamboozled, and his lbw looked as much a mercy killing as a wicket.
The New Zealanders recovered from there to post a moderate total, with two good partnerships between Wattling and Ellis and Wattling and Oram. But it felt like too little too late.
The brief New Zealand revival continued into the first few overs of the West Indian innings. The first two overs were maidens (although there were some leg byes scored) and after 3 overs, West Indies were 6 for 1. Mills bowled an outstanding spell to end with the figures of 5 – 1 – 7 – 1. But as well as Mills bowled, it is difficult to win a game by yourself if you are only given 5 overs. After the match I asked Kane Williamson why he didn’t bring Mills back at the end. He replied that he had planned to, but the match was taken away before he got a chance. Perhaps he needed to make that call earlier.
From the end of Mills’ spell it was a Jamaican benefit, with Gayle rearranging the furniture in the ground with frequent big sixes. Smith looked less certain, but kept the strike turning over and occasionally launched a big shot himself.
Tarun Nethula came on to bowl and got one ball to turn quite sharply, and with another deceived Smith with a googly, but dropped the last ball of his second over short to Gayle and disappeared into the third tier of the stadium.
Once the rain came West Indies were in a commanding position of 91/1 off 18 overs. The only thing that could save New Zealand was a washout. The washout never arrived, but instead the match was shortened. The Duckworth-Lewis method is designed to weigh up how strong a position a team is in, and adjust the target accordingly. The system is designed to make sure if a team is in a dominant position before an interruption, that they are in a dominant position after the rain. That was how it played out. West Indies went from needing 100 off 32 overs to needing 43 off 15. Like Ryder after the second standing 8 count, they finished it off with a flurry of big blows. It took only 6.2 overs for them to score the runs.
Just like Mark Watson against Jesse Ryder, New Zealand had no answer against the power, precision and skill of the West Indians.