West Indies beat New Zealand by 56 runs in the first T20 international at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Florida.
Any worries that the first Twenty20 international in Lauderhill, Florida, would be a dreary contest because of a slow pitch were allayed by an exhibition of power hitting from the West Indian batsmen, much to the delight of the strong Caribbean contingent in the crowd. Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle were the headliners, hitting missiles into the stands during a 108-run partnership plundered at almost 16 runs an over. Gayle began his innings watchfully but then accelerated to build a sound platform, which allowed Pollard to explode from the get-go and set a target that was comfortably out of New Zealand's reach.
New Zealand started well but could not keep up the pressure as the steep target took a toll on them. Later captain Ross Taylor too retired hurt to diminish any hopes of a fightback. Ronnie Hira did not bat due to his dislocated finger. Rob Nicol top scored for New Zealand with a well compiled 32. It was the wily Sunil Narine who with figures of 3-34 in his quota of four overs, put the brakes on the New Zealand scoring.
New Zealand were listless in the field and looked every bit a side that hadn't played international cricket since March. Their lines and lengths were unimaginative and inconsistent; they conceded 13 runs in wides and bowled three no-balls; and they missed a stumping, a run-out and a catch. They lost Ronnie Hira to a dislocated finger, and Jacob Oram and Ross Taylor damaged a knee and a shoulder while fielding. They have less than 24 hours to nurse those injuries and make plans to counter Gayle and Pollard before round two.
Gayle played a calculated innings. He began carefully, leaving deliveries outside off and swaying away from bouncers, and was happy to let Dwayne Smith and Johnson Charles attack. However, whenever there was a lull in the scoring, Gayle would use his muscle. He could have been run out on 8 had a throw from mid-off struck the stumps at the non-striker's end; it did not.
In the ninth over, Gayle hit left-arm spinner Hira powerfully towards long-off, where Oram dived but failed to prevent the boundary. Oram hurt his knee during the dive and had trouble later while bowling - struggling with his line and footing - and running between the wickets. Gayle continued to attack the spinners, carting Nathan McCullum for consecutive straight boundaries before pulling Hira into the stands beyond midwicket. He then hammered the ball back at Hira, who dislocated a finger as he tried to intercept it. Hira went off the field immediately and played no further part in the game.