Same venue, different day, almost the same depressing result.

The rain that severely affected Jamaica for ten successive days and completely washed out two Cable & Wireless One-Day Internationals a week-and-a-half ago returned to Sabina Park yesterday.

This time around, half-a-match was played before the predicted afternoon showers, accompanied by roaring thunder and occasional flashes of lightning, made enough impact for an hour to force the abandonment of the first of five ODIs between West Indies and New Zealand.

West Indies did not even have the chance to pursue their winning target of 177 from 50 overs when the clouds that had been hovering over Sabina during the entire lunch break burst and dumped a considerable amount of rain on the ground.

During the lunch break, about eight policemen stood around the pitch protecting it like if it was hallowed turf. As soon as they made their way off and the umpires and the New Zealand players came onto the field, the showers started, at 1:50 p.m.

The rain stopped about an hour later and although groundstaff made feverish attempts to have Sabina ready, match officials abandoned the game at 3:30 p.m., ten minutes before a resumption was needed to facilitate 25 overs, the minimum number required to constitute a match.

It was a disappointment to those spectators in the half-filled stands who had stayed on in hope of a resumption.

While the rain pelted down, scores of spectators in the Mound started their own impromptu game that generated excitement and entertainment.

Sunshine returned to Sabina by 5 p.m., but West Indies captain Carl Hooper stopped short of saying if he felt the conditions were good enough to continue.

Then, around 5:15 p.m., some New Zealand fans took to the field and had an impromptu game of their own.

I don't think I am in a position to say. The umpires are the ones who dictate whether we play or not. In their opinion it was wet, Hooper said.

We had some very, very heavy showers and it was unfortunate. We obviously were in the better position. At the end of the day, there was still of lot of cricket to be played.

We can't complain. I suppose the weather intervened and there is nothing you can do about it but look forward to the next game.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming admitted it was a hard call for umpires Asoka deSilva and Billy Doctrove.

I sympathise with the umpires. It was a tough decision because you can't add on any more time at the end of the day. The clock was ticking by.

We probably would have played a 20-over game, but the rules don't permit that, he said.

It's just one of those unfortunate situations where another half-hour, 45 minutes, maybe an hour, you could have played cricket, but by that time it was too late.

New Zealand, seemingly affected by inadequate preparations, never batted with certainty and they required Craig McMillan's 69 to add respectability to their eventual total.

West Indies' faster bowlers duly used a helpful pitch in the early stages, but their part-time spinners also assisted in the effort by sharing five wickets.

Three of those went to Chris Gayle's flat off-spin after Hooper entrusted him with the ball after 13 overs and two went to Hinds' left-arm spin.

One of Hinds' victims was the important wicket of McMillan at a stage when he appeared to be in control and threatened to get a century and raise New Zealand's total past 200.

Brought on after 38 overs to make up the quota allocated to the fifth bowler, Hinds, playing in preference to pacer Corey Collymore, removed McMillan with his fourth ball, which was lifted into the waiting hands of Gayle at long-on.

McMillan, adventurous at times, but generally selective in his strokeplay, did a fair job in getting New Zealand to their total after the terrible start.

The pitch had been under covers for ten days because of the recent torrential rainfall, and it took many by surprise that the Black Caps batted first on winning the toss.

There was early pace and bounce in the surface and the visitors were unable to negotiate it with any degree of certainty, limping to 37 for four before McMillan engineered a recovery.

Birthday boy Mervyn Dillon despatched New Zealand's two most experienced batsmen, combining to form an opening pair at this level for the first time.

Nathan Astle, well remembered for his pugnacious hundreds in the Barbados and Antigua Test six seasons ago, attracted a ball which bounced and moved way to clip his outside edge on the way to a slip catch.

Astle went for a fourth-ball duck and Fleming followed him in Dillon's next over when he tumbled over on his backside in pulling a catch to square-leg.

There might have been a hint of misbehaviour in the pitch when Chris Nevin found a delivery from Cameron Cuffy leaping from a good length and heading for his throat. Self-preservation led him to stab at the ball, which spliced off the top of the bat for a catch to gully.