Florida: Chris Gayle treated the locals to a thrilling show of hitting as the West Indies defeated an injury-hit New Zealand by 56 runs in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals in Lauderhill, Florida on Saturday.
Gayle bludgeoned his way to 85 not out from 52 balls and received plenty of support from Kieron Pollard as the men from the Caribbean amassed 209 runs for the loss of just two wickets after New Zealand had put them in to bat.
Playing in front of a neutral crowd in the US in an effort to bring a wider audience to the game, Gayle blasted seven fours and five sixes in his innings, while Pollard hammered 63 not out from just 29 balls.
It was the perfect display of aggression for the curious crowd, reintroducing them to the shortest form of the game as opposed to the traditional one- and five-day versions.
New Zealand played Sri Lanka in the area in 2010 but with a strong West Indies following in the region, the crowd was noticeably larger.
Cricket Holdings America — a joint venture between the USA Cricket Association and New Zealand Cricket — is aiming to use the Central Broward Regional Park to launch an expansion team for its proposed Twenty20 league slated to start next year.
A strong level of support from cricket fans residing in the area is needed to prove it can sustain a team in such a league and organisers are hoping for an even larger turn out in Sunday’s rematch.
New Zealand could only manage 153 in reply with injuries hindering their cause.
Left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira was unable to finish the match after dislocating a finger during his third over when he dropped a sharp return chance from Gayle.
Ross Taylor also damaged his shoulder in the outfield while dropping another catch and was forced to retire hurt later while batting and Jacob Oram battled on despite obvious knee discomfort.
Opener Rob Nicol top-scored for the Black Caps with 32 from 31 deliveries but off-spinner Sunil Narine claimed 3-34 from his four overs to dent the chase.