It is a rarity these days for West Indies to enter a series as overwhelming favourites but it hasn't taken them long to show how much of a gulf exists between them and New Zealand.
On the same Sabina Park track on which New Zealand stuttered to 190 two days ago, West Indies bludgeoned 315 in the second ODI. It was a more comfortable win than the 55-run margin suggests, and despite BJ Watling's enterprising innings, New Zealand never really threatened to pull off a win. (Scorecard)
Contrasting centuries from local heroes Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels kept the Jamaican crowd entertained in the morning, as the innings unfolded with the noisy chorus of vuvuzelas in the background.
In the blockbuster Jaws, the police chief memorably deadpans, "We are going to need a bigger boat," on seeing the giant killer shark for the first time. International bowlers will have similar sentiments on seeing Chris Gayle walk out to bat. Once again he made a cricket ground seem tiny as he hit nine sixes in another exhibition of his ability to make power-hitting look effortless.
With his father, sister and several other family members watching, Gayle destroyed New Zealand's listless bowling to reach his 20th ODI hundred, a new West Indian record as he went past the great Brian Lara's tally. It was also his fifth fifty-plus score in six innings since his international exile ended last month.
New Zealand's bowlers were looking to exploit some of the early morning moisture in the track, but their only success was dismissing Lendl Simmons. He fell for his sixth successive score under 20 after returning to the West Indies side, chasing an away-going delivery from Tim Southee in the fourth over. Any hopes of keeping the batsmen under pressure were swiftly and brutally dashed. In the next over, Gayle launched New Zealand's bowling spearhead Kyle Mills for three sixes over mid-off.
Though he repeatedly dispatched the ball into the stands, Gayle's innings was not all slam-bang. There was plenty of discretion as he regularly let deliveries go through to the keeper or watchfully defended them. When he did decide to attack, his shots were almost always in the V, unlike the Twenty20-era slogger's preferred thwack to midwicket.
After the early punishment, New Zealand's quicker bowlers adapted their line to Gayle, targetting the middle and leg stump as they managed to slow him down a touch. Still, there were the gentle offerings of an array of part-time slow bowlers for Gayle to feast on. A murderous straight hit off Daniel Flynn took him to 98, and a tickle down to fine leg for four off Kane Williamson in the 30th over brought up his century. He did a celebratory jig, before sinking to his knees with his hands aloft as the Jamaican crowd cheered their biggest cricketing idol.
Gayle had plenty of time to go on past his career-best score of 153, but in the 38th over, one of his shots - finally - didn't carry past the rope, landing instead in the hands of deep midwicket. That only allowed the other Jamaican batting star, Marlon Samuels, to take centrestage.
Unlike Gayle's boundary-filled innings, Samuels' knock was more about the singles - taking 51 of them, and even pushing Gayle to come back for several quick twos. Though Samuels didn't maintain as high a strike-rate as Gayle, he wasn't too far off a run-a-ball. He reached his half-century off 57 deliveries, though he had hit only a couple of fours and a six.
Even when Samuels started finding the boundaries regularly, there was a marked difference to the Gayle style - three consecutive cover-driven fours off Tim Southee in the 39th over were all about timing and placement, and little about power-hitting.
Two of West Indies' middle-order powerhouses, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, failed to make an impact, and New Zealand managed to shackle the scoring as Samuels slowed down in sight of the century. Samuels scored only in singles in the last seven overs of the innings before finally reaching his first ODI hundred since 2006 in the final over. Despite Darren Sammy's quickfire 31, West Indies gathered only 33 runs in the final five overs, but the total still proved far too much for the inexperienced New Zealand batsmen.
The chase got off to a reasonable, though not explosive, start. Rob Nicol fell early after hitting a couple of boundaries, Daniel Flynn played an edgy innings before departing in the 12th over with the score on 62. New Zealand then lost momentum as Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson struggled to pull off the big hits. When Guptill was dismissed midway through the innings, the asking-rate was nearing eight, and the game looked lost.
Williamson and Watling tried to revive the innings through a quick 70-run stand, but though both compiled half-centuries, they had too much to do. Williamson was done in by a full swinging ball from Rampaul in the 37th over virtually ending the contest, though Watling improved his highest score in ODIs for the second game in a row and kept fighting till the end.