The thrill of a fast start. The chaos of a collapse. A fast bowler breathing fire. A T20 maverick standing tall. There were so many good things about the first T20I in Auckland - not least the return of people in the stands and the death of the artificial crowd noise machine, which couldn't have happened soon enough.
But there was also room for improvement. Lockie Ferguson made a point of it in the post-match press conference several times. Barring his vicious spell of 4-0-21-5, the rest of the bowlers took a little while to come to grips with international cricket again. Even someone as skilled as Tim Southee - who's also the stand-in captain for the first two games - began the day with two wides.
West Indies were rusty too. Yorkers that turned into beamers were a major cause for their defeat on Friday and Kieron Pollard will be eager to restore his team's discipline and push the series into a decider.
For all the excitement at Eden Park, there may well be something even better at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, as both sets of players work their way back towards peak performance levels. Pollard is there. So is Ferguson. And the rest won't be far behind.
New Zealand WLLLL (Last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LWWWL
In the spotlight
It wasn't so long ago that Jimmy Neesham was about to walk away from the game. He batted slowly and bowled too predictably. As a result, he lost his place in the side and was forced on a journey of self-rediscovery. Friends and family and the Wellington players and staff helped him locate his love for cricket again, and now he's out there making a case to be a limited-overs finisher. New Zealand have often missed that, with senior top-order batsmen like Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor forced to both carry an innings as well as close it out, but now things are changing.
Nicholas Pooran fell cheaply to a full toss on leg stump. Sure, it arrived at 150 kph, but he's supposed to be the crown jewel among the next generation of West Indies batsmen. And those guys are supposed to belt bad balls like that out of the ground. Pooran is no fluke. He is good against pace and spin. He is already a batsman capable of seeing two overs ahead in the game and batting accordingly. And he has all the shots and flair to spare. Sooner or later, class will show.
Now that they don't have to worry about the tiny boundaries at Eden Park, New Zealand may think about bringing Ish Sodhi back into the XI. Glenn Phillips' kneecap had popped out, and then popped back in, while he was batting last night. He should be available for the second T20I.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Tim Seifert (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Glenn Phillips, 4 Devon Conway, 5 Ross Taylor, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee (capt), 9 Kyle Jamieson, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Ish Sodhi
West Indies were concerned about their batting losing wickets in clumps, but given that clump was made up of near-blinding talent, they'll probably persist with the same line-up and just ask them to be a little more - well - like themselves.
West Indies (possible): 1 Andre Fletcher, 2 Brandon King, 3 Shimron Hetmyer, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Fabian Allen, 8 Keemo Paul/Kyle Mayers, 9 Oshane Thomas, 10 Kesrick Williams, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Pitch and conditions
Another run-fest is likely given the average run-rate across seven matches played at the Bay Oval is a very healthy 9.01. Fast bowlers tend to leak most of those runs - they have gone at 9.60 runs an over - so both captains may try to control the game with spin, which has cost a much better 7.80.
Sunday's weather forecast suggests brief afternoon showers in Mount Maunganui.
Stats and Trivia
- Neesham has played four T20Is since the end of his two-year hiatus in January 2019. He's made 111 runs In them, facing only 62 balls, at a strike rate of 179.
- Pollard's numbers in T20 cricket this year read: 615 runs in 308 balls at an average of 55.90 and strike rate of 199.87.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo