New Zealand clinch series despite Gayle's 135
New Zealand 211 for 5 (Taylor 48*, Guptill 43, Powell 3-66) beat West Indies 293 for 9 (Gayle 135, Chanderpaul 94, Gillespie 4-58, Mills 3-57) by 9 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
In a series that has been hampered by bad weather, New Zealand won the fifth ODI in Napier through the Duckworth/Lewis system after rain interrupted a match that was going down to the wire. Chris Gayle's brilliant 135 helped West Indies posted a healthy 293 for 9 in their 50 overs and New Zealand replied with 211 for 5 after 35. That put them ahead on the required rate by nine runs and handed them the series 2-1.
The New Zealand chase was dramatic from ball one. The openers began the innings in a fashion more suited to Twenty20 cricket. The run-rate was up around ten an over before Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum were dismissed.
Ryder was the first to go for 21 in the sixth over with the score at 59, when he was caught trying to hit Daren Powell out of the ground. McCullum was in ominous form and faced 28 deliveries for his 41, striking six fours and a six before he departed with the score at 96 in the tenth over.
The high run rate took some of the pressure off the following batsmen. Martin Guptill was the third victim after making a classy 43 from 39 deliveries, following his unbeaten century in the last match. After his dismissal, the New Zealanders looked in control, only requiring five an over for victory.
Ross Taylor in particular was in great form. Things began to change in the 29th over with the loss of two wickets. Daniel Flynn (21) and Neil Broom were dismissed in successive deliveries from Daren Powell and suddenly, West Indies were back in the game.
The loss of those two wickets meant the visitors would have won if the game had been called off after the 29th over. But just before the players left the field, Taylor hit two boundaries to put his team back in front and he remained unbeaten on 48.
Taylor played a sensible innings, knowing how important his wicket was. He hit three boundaries, all through the off-side field, and was ably supported by Grant Elliott who finished on 14 when the rain came.
The pick of the bowlers was Kieron Pollard, who took 1 for 40 off his 10 overs. He was unlucky not to have Taylor caught down the leg-side when replays showed he gloved a ball through to Denesh Ramdin. Powell was expensive, but took important wickets to finish with 3 for 66.
Earlier in the day, a New Zealand victory looked unlikely. West Indies captain Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put on 140 for the third wicket before Gayle was dismissed for 135. Gayle started his innings shakily, playing and missing the bowling of Kyle Mills who was swinging the ball well in the early overs.
After the early jitters, the West Indies captain began to play the type of innings he has become renowned for. The boundaries were always under threat and any wayward bowling was severely punished. He hit nine fours and five sixes - one was so big it left the ground and landed in the backyard of a neighbouring house - during his 129-ball stay at the crease.
The only difference from earlier matches was his generally more cautious approach. Even though he finished at better than a run a ball, he appeared to take less risks in the knowledge that he needed a big score to give his team a chance of setting an imposing total.
Chanderpaul also began cautiously and his first 24 runs all came in singles. Once he reached 50, he became more aggressive. His 94 runs were made off 91 deliveries and included nine fours and a six.
The highlights of his innings were his reverse sweeps. In one Daniel Vettori over he hit one ball to the boundary at third man and the next over the fence at deep point. Ironically, it was an attempted reverse sweep that saw his downfall when he lobbed a Jesse Ryder delivery straight to point.
None of the New Zealand bowlers were spared from the Gayle and Chanderpaul onslaught. After bowling well early, Mills finished with 3 for 57, while Gillespie claimed 4 for 58. Vettori bowled his first eight overs for 18 runs, but the last two cost 27 to give him the figures of 0 for 45.
At the toss both captains had wanted to bowl first because of possible rain interruptions later in the day. Those considerations proved well founded.
Peter Burdon is a freelance writer based in Christchurch