Vettori and Taylor help New Zealand draw level
Ross Taylor's aggressive half-century led New Zealand to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against West Indies in the third ODI in Wellington, leaving the five-match series level at 1-1. Taylor and Daniel Flynn guided the hosts home with 29.3 overs to spare after Daniel Vettori took 4 for 20 to dismiss West Indies for 128 in 41.4 overs.
Daren Powell was the pick of the West Indian bowlers, taking 3 for 25 off seven overs, but the visitors were comprehensively outplayed. The heavy nature of the loss will be a major dent to their confidence ahead of the fourth ODI in Auckland on Saturday
The New Zealand bowling attack exploited the overcast conditions in the morning, after Vettori won the toss, before the pitch at the Westpac Stadium got better as the match wore on. Although Powell struck three early blows for West Indies, their batsmen simply didn't give them enough runs to defend.
Brendon McCullum was the first to fall for New Zealand as they pursued 128 for victory. He attempted to hit Powell on the up over cover point but the ball took the edge and flew towards Ramnaresh Sarwan, who took a difficult catch on the move at third man.
Jesse Ryder followed the very next ball. He lofted to cover where Nikita Miller took a simple catch and New Zealand had lost both openers after a brisk opening stand of 34. Jamie How followed a couple of overs later when he hooked Powell to Jerome Taylor at fine leg, leaving the hosts teetering at 40 for 3. Flynn, however, joined Taylor in a match-winning partnership of 89 for the fourth wicket.
Taylor was brutal against the West Indian attack. He looked to defend and play tightly when he began his innings but once set he blasted five fours and three massive sixes. He mixed solid defence with natural flair, taking on Fidel Edwards in particular by hitting him over the midwicket and cover boundary. He slog-swept Miller ten rows back at midwicket to complete his trio of sixes and carry his side to victory.
Earlier in the day, Vettori continued his dominance over the West Indian batsmen. His spell helped New Zealand reinforce the advantage created by their new-ball attack.
Mills and Southee bowled effectively in tandem. Mills provided the pressure and consistency while Southee swung the ball beautifully. However, Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued to thwart the New Zealand bowlers with a patient 45 off 77 balls. He held the innings together before succumbing to Jesse Ryder's first delivery, which surprised him for pace and hit him on the pad in front of middle stump.
Fidel Edwards was the last man out for 13 off 27 balls when he tried to slog-sweep Jeetan Patel over midwicket. How took his third catch of the innings, running backwards just outside the circle at square leg, leaving Miller unbeaten on 25. The final two wickets produced 27 runs valuable runs each to push West Indies past 100.
Marc Ellison is a freelance sports writer