Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here
West Indies fast bowler Tino Best has said that the absence of their big hitters, due to injuries, impacted the team's performance in the first T20 against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday. New Zealand set the visitors 190 to chase but West Indies crumbled to end on 108 for 8. It left West Indies needing to win the second game in Wellington on Wednesday to square the series before returning home.
Best picked up 3 for 40 from his four overs after finding himself on the fringes in the ODI series. With Ravi Rampaul returning home due to injury, Best was thrust into an atmosphere where New Zealand took the bowlers to task.
"I thought New Zealand played well. They played to their strengths so all credit to them," Best said. "I think that in our situation right now, we don't have all our big hitters. In T20s, you need all your six hitters. But we have one more game to go and can level the series there."
Best admitted that while the bowlers were expensive, the team felt that 190 could be chased. "Obviously if Johnson Charles, [Lendl] Simmons and [Andre] Fletcher got off to a good start it was gettable," Best said. "You can't rule a score like that out in T20. But it just didn't happen for us today."
Best believes that West Indies are on course to defending their World T20 title in March in Bangladesh amid these hiccups because they are likely to be back to full-strength. He said the weakened squad had made the New Zealand tour much tougher.
"I can tell you, if our key players were here like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Smith, it would be a whole different ballgame. When we played them (New Zealand) in the Caribbean with our full-strength team, they didn't turn up but here, we're in their backyard and a bit weakened. But we've still got a good team spirit going so we have to keep fighting. The guys feel very very positive," Best said.
He added that the New Zealand batsmen had riled him as they started briskly thanks to unbeaten knocks from Brendon McCullum (60) and Luke Ronchi (48). When asked if the disappointing tour was getting to the West Indies players, Best replied, "International cricket is hard so you'll be a bit chirpy. It's a gentleman's game, yes, but in T20 cricket, you get more fired up (as a bowler) as guys will play extraordinary shots off you. So you just want to give them a twerp to let them know that you're still bowling hard and to show some respect. But it's all good out there."