Kingston, Jamaica: Chris Gayle smashed a third successive half-century and seamer Andre Russell bagged four wickets as West Indies cruised to a nine-wicket win over New Zealand in Thursday’s opening one-day international.
Gayle, who made 53 and 85 in the back-to-back Twenty20 matches against the injury-hit tourists in Florida last week, continued his rich vein of form with 63 at Sabina Park as West Indies coasted home with 52 balls to spare.
Dwayne Smith was also undefeated on 65.
Russell, the 24-year-old seamer, had pinned back New Zealand, taking three wickets with the new ball and then got a fourth with his final delivery to end with 4-45 off 10 overs.
The Black Caps struggled to just 190-9 off their 50 overs after they were sent in to bat by captain Darren Sammy.
Off-spinner Sunil Narine (2-26) and pacer Ravi Rampaul (2-42) provided excellent back-up.
“I’m happy with the way I bowled. It felt great. It was good to come back into the team after I missed the T20 series in Florida and make an impression right away,” said Russell.
“To bowl first at Sabina Park, I knew I would get assistance from whatever moisture was in the surface.
“I got the opportunity to bowl the new ball and I knew I could make good use of it. I decided to run in with purpose, hit the deck hard and look for wickets. Before the match we said wickets with the new ball would be vital and my focus was on getting it right from the very start.”
Gayle’s 63 not out came off 57 balls with five sixes, much to the delight of his home supporters while Smith played some superb strokes and cleared the ropes three times in an unbeaten 65 off 77 balls.
The pair added an unbroken stand of 130 for the second wicket as the home side stormed to their rain-adjusted total of 136 off just 24.2 overs for the loss of just opener Lendl Simmons.
Heavy afternoon rain accompanied by lightning and thunder caused a break in play, bringing a Duckworth/Lewis target into play.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson called on his young side to make the most of their underdog status in Saturday’s second match at the same venue.
“It is disappointing, but we know we are underdogs and hopefully that breeds a fearless attitude in our camp,” Williamson told cricinfo.com.
“We have to move forward as that is the only thing that we can do in a five-match series.
“There are a lot of challenges for us in the series, not only the quality of the opposition and the conditions, but more so (after) the injuries we have had to get a consistent side on the park and to have consistent planning to move forward.”