June 6, 2002

Rain in Jamaica makes first ODI inconclusive

New Zealand's opening One-Day International on their tour of the West Indies was rained off in Jamaica today.

As New Zealand walked onto Sabina Park to attempt to defend their 176 runs, rain started and it never let up.

New Zealand team manager Jeff Crowe said earlier in the tour that he feared the weather was going to play a large part in the tour.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming won the toss and decided to risk the state of the pitch which had been under covers for much of the previous week.

Just how much of a risk was seen when wickets fell on the first ball of each of the third, fifth and seventh overs. Nathan Astle went for one, Fleming for a duck and Chris Nevin for eight.

New Zealand were 14/3, all three batsmen were out to catches from balls that gained extra lift from a good length.

Craig McMillan was the key batsman for the side, taking control initially in a partnership with Chris Harris that lifted the score to 37 before he was caught from off-spinner Chris Gayle for eight made off 23 balls.

Lou Vincent then came in and while struggling for his timing, in the difficult batting conditions, he helped lift the score to 104 before he was trapped leg before wicket in the 33rd over by Cameron Cuffy for 20 scored off 62 balls.

McMillan's battling innings which included only five fours ended off the last ball of the 40th over as he attempted to hit Ryan Hinds over the long-on boundary when the score was 132. He was caught for 69 scored off 99 balls, his 15th one-day half-century. But New Zealand really needed him to stay longer, a fact borne out by the relatively quick demise of the remainder of the batting.

Scott Styris went shortly after for nine, caught and bowled by Pedro Collins while Daryl Tuffey was soon caught for one. Daniel Vettori batted in his inimitable style to get a quick 15 before he was bowled by Gayle and Shane Bond demonstrated what a handy player he can be in the lower order when finishing unbeaten on 19, as New Zealand were all out for 176 with two balls remaining.

All of the West Indies bowlers made the best of the conditions, bowling a consistent line. Gayle took three for 27 from 9.4 overs. But Hinds had two for 19 off four, Cuffy two for 28 from 10 and Mervyn Dillon two for 33 from his 10.

Conditions were deteriorating throughout the innings and it was anticipated that the West Indies would face a trying task attempting to get the total.

However, that was all conjecture as the rain set in to deny New Zealand their chance of a winning start to the series which resumes in St Lucia at the weekend with matches on successive days.

Cloudy conditions are forecast for the entire weekend with temperatures around 87 degrees Fahrenheit.