Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, said his team were "pleased to get away with the win" in the rain-affected game at McLean Park, which helped them edge the ODI series against West Indies after the Test and Twenty20 contests ended on level terms.
"We came here knowing it was a winner-takes-all game for the whole series with the Test matches and Twenty20 being drawn and the one-day series being pretty tight," Vettori told Sportal. "We thought we were the better side throughout the one-day series and we just didn't get the opportunities to finish them off but today, fortunately enough, we did."
Chasing 294, New Zealand were at 211 for 5 after 35 overs when rain stopped play. There was no further action, and New Zealand took the honours as they were nine runs ahead of the revised target on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Vettori felt Ross Taylor, unbeaten on 48, was key to the team's chances if it had been a 50-over contest. "The way he was playing, and hitting the ball, and the maturity he showed in the previous two innings, and also today, I think he held the responsibility of the win in his hands," he said. "If we had lost him it may have been difficult but I would still have backed us to get that run-rate."
Vettori said the bowlers had "swayed it back" in the last five overs, managing to keep West Indies under 300 when 320 seemed a par score, and was thrilled at the start provided by Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder. "To be 100 for 2 after 10 overs puts you in a great position, it breaks the back of the opposition and you are able to accumulate from there."
New Zealand were in the middle of the batting side's Powerplay when rain intervened. Vettori later said he opted to use the five overs with field restrictions and put pressure on the opposition once they knew there was going to an interruption.
"There's been little key moments that both teams have won through the series and fortunately today we won those ones," he said. Among the defining moments Vettori mentioned were the consecutive fours hit by Taylor in a Lionel Baker over - the 34th of the innings - that cost 15 runs, and the team not losing a wicket before the rain arrived.
Chris Gayle, who top scored with 135 in the game, said the team had progressed during the tour, despite the end result in the ODIs. "I'm pretty disappointed with the way the series has ended but in saying that it is part of the game, it is nature, and there is nothing you can do about it. I thought it would have been a good game but New Zealand came out on top by nine runs so credit goes to them."
West Indies' performance on this tour bettered their poor showing on their last two visits to New Zealand and Gayle felt his side could have won the final game. "It was a tricky situation. The ball gets a bit wet and it is going to be easier for the batter to score but we had the quality of bowlers to get the job done and before they got above the run-rate it started to drizzle," he said. "The umpires decided play should go on and in the end they got the required runs and unfortunately the rain came and that was it."
Gayle was amazed to see the improvisation shown by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who used the reverse-sweep to good effect in his 94 off 91 balls. "He played some unorthodox shots, the first time I have ever seen Chanderpaul play these shots and he came off really well today."
West Indies now fly back home, where they host England before meeting the same opponents in England. "We just have to try and build on this," he said, "and better ourselves in the home series against England, who are going to be tough opponents."