Ronchi, McCullums set up emphatic win
New Zealand 189 for 5 (B McCullum 60*, Ronchi 45*, Best 3-40) beat West Indies 108 for 8 (N McCullum 4-24, Neesham 3-16) by 81 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Luke Ronchi and Brendon MCCullum turned a flagging New Zealand innings around with an unbeaten 85-run partnership in the last 7.1 overs, which gave them a comfortable total to defend given West Indies' weakened batting. On a slowish pitch and short straight boundaries where mis-hits sail for comfortable sixes, Tino Best pulled New Zealand back twice, but Ronchi and Brendon McCullum smashed seven sixes and five fours in the last six overs to take the game away from West Indies. Brendon McCullum scored 32 off the last 15 balls he played, and Ronchi, the man who provided New Zealand the first turn of momentum, took 48 off 25.
It could have been much worse for West Indies had it not been for the intervention from Best when he stopped the rampaging Martin Guptill at the top of the innings and Colin Munro in the middle. Guptill just pushed and smacked down the ground everything pitched in his arc. The last three balls of the second over went for six, four and four. Best got another over at the top, and showed he had realised you couldn't pitch up at Eden park. Guptill still managed to hit a short delivery through mid-off for four, but Best finally got the better of him when he cramped him up.
A slow period followed during which New Zealand lost Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor. Brendon McCullum put his head down to make sure they didn't lose too many wickets, in the process going at under a run a ball. At 70 for 3 after 10 overs, they needed a push, which Munro provided with an 18-run over from Nikita Miller. Best, though, came back and removed him and Corey Anderson with aggressive short-of-a-length bowling.
After 14 overs, Brendon McCullum was still only 28 off 30, and a low total loomed. Ronchi, though, began the turnaround with an onslaught on Andre Russell, whose first over was the 15th of the innings. To balls pitched up, all you needed was a decent swing of the bat, and they were flying into the stands. Sunil Narine got a quiet 16th over in, but he wasn't accorded such respect in the 18th when Ronchi slog-swept him for a six, and then read a carrom ball to late-cut it for four.
With the score at 175 after 19 overs, it was down to Best again. Best began well, bowling quick and short of a length, conceding just one run off the first three balls. This is when Brendon McCullum took the calculated risk, charging him, making sure the short ball was now in his swinging arc, and sending it over long-on. With the next ball he guessed right, got under a low full toss, and ramped it way over fine leg for six. The two shots just pushed a gettable total into the realm of improbable for a weakened batting line-up.
Lendl Simmons fell to the pace of Adam Milne, who would later go on to touch 153.1 kmph. Johnson Charles swung a few, but he is a low-percentage batsman, and soon inside-edged James Neesham. With the openers gone, it was always going to be down to Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, but by the time they came together, the required rate had crossed 13, and there were 10 overs to go.
Playing his 50th Twenty20 international, having led the side out, Nathan McCullum was enjoying the hole-outs from the frustrated middle order. It took Russell two balls to try to hit a six, but the tall Guptill pulled out a stunner at the long-on boundary. In Nathan McCullum's next over, Bravo found Ryder at long-off. If the game hadn't been over already, the last rites were now performed.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo