Narine stars again as West Indies take series 4-1
West Indies 241 for 9 (Russell 59*, Bravo 53, Mills 3-40, Southee 3-37) beat New Zealand 221 (Williamson 69, Narine 5-27) by 20 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The fifth one-dayer between West Indies and New Zealand had plenty of similarities to Saturday's fourth ODI at Warner Park: West Indies chose to bat, the top order stumbled, one of their Twenty20 stars made the slowest ODI half-century of his career to anchor the innings, and then some pyrotechnics from Andre Russell took the home side towards 250.
The echoes of Saturday continued during the chase, so much so that when seven overs were remaining, New Zealand needed exactly the same number of runs and had the same number of wickets in hand - 50 runs and four wickets. And once again, Sunil Narine showed how his temperament is as notable as his variations, spooking the New Zealand batsmen in the closing stages to engineer another West Indies victory.
A listless performance in the middle overs, with an abundance of dot balls and an inability to read Narine had seemingly fatally hurt New Zealand's chances of victory midway through the chase. In the 26th over Ross Taylor was unluckily dismissed as the ball bounced off his toe before ricocheting off the wicketkeeper's pad onto the stumps to find him short, and New Zealand slid to 108 for 4. They were in deeper trouble when Daniel Flynn, who has surely played his last limited-overs international for a while, was gone for a duck and Tom Latham's struggle for runs continued.
With Kane Williamson was also labouring to 29 off 50, the game looked over at 140 for 6 with 15 overs to play. The match changed, though, towards the end of the batting Powerplay as New Zealand found a pair of batsmen in Williamson and Andrew Ellis who both worked the ball around for singles, without getting bogged down. There had been only five boundaries since the 12th over till the almost the end of the 40th, but once Williamson got his half-century with a boundary to midwicket, and Dwayne Bravo was taken for 13 in the 42nd over, you could feel a momentum shift. That was only heightened when Bravo, normally a terrific fielder, put down an Ellis chance in the next over.
Enter Narine. He had three overs to go, and operated with an unusual around-the-wicket line. Chris Gayle has customarily changed matches with his power-hitting but this time he did it with an athletic piece of fielding. With Narine choking the runs, Williamson looked to hit out in the 46th, only for Gayle to dive and pluck a one-handed chance at midwicket. In his next over, Narine confounded Ellis and finished off his spell by knocking back Kyle Mills' offstump, ending with the best figures by a West Indies player against New Zealand, and also ending the match as a contest.
Narine had earlier boosted West Indies with the wickets of two set batsmen, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill, who had kept New Zealand's run-rate hovering around six in the mandatory Powerplay. In the company of Darren Sammy, whose accuracy was highlighted by the fact that he didn't bowl a single ball down the leg side to the right-handers in the final three ODIs, Narine choked the runs to help West Indies claw back after a brisk start to the chase.
New Zealand were satisfied halfway through the game, as they lined up with a wafer-thin bowling attack after dropping the specialist spinner Nathan McCullum and the experienced allrounder Jacob Oram. They have had wretched luck with injuries on this tour so far, and they were thankful that the latest casualty, fast bowler Trent Boult, sent down eight overs before picking up a thigh strain. The bowling was so inexperienced that Rob Nicol with an aggregate of ten wickets was the third-highest wicket-taker in the XI.
What helped New Zealand's part-time trio of Nicol, Flynn and Williamson to get through some low-pressure overs was the early spell of Tim Southee, who took 2 for 5 in his first three overs. Southee didn't begin the series well, but has been impressive since his new-ball spell to Chris Gayle in the third ODI which was the first time Gayle failed in this series.
In a line-up filled with flashy players, the relatively steady Marlon Samuels is expected to shoulder plenty of responsibility. Samuels task was made more difficult as Bravo was struggling to find fluency, especially as he was under-pressure to bat with more restraint after his slapdash innings on Saturday. He did his bit with a bustling 43.
There wasn't any exceptional bowling from New Zealand, who relied more on nagging line-and-length stuff. Bravo was far from the flamboyant big-hitter we have come to expect, struggling to 20 off 60 deliveries. He too capitalised on some loose bowling from Nicol, but was still unable to lift his strike-rate too much. Soon after reaching his seventh ODI half-century, he holed out, hitting a low full toss on the pads to midwicket.
Kieron Pollard and Sammy failed, before Russell continued to press his case for a promotion from the depths of No. 9. First, Williamson was hammered over square leg for six, and then clubbed down the ground for four. Ellis, so steady through much of his spell, was rattled against Russell, serving up a couple of full tosses that were dismissed over midwicket. When Russell walked in in the 39th over, West Indies would have been happy with a score around 200; Russell's cameo gave them 40 more.
Once again, the brightest talents to have emerged from Caribbean over the last year, and two of their best performers in the series, played massive roles in a West Indies victory.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo