Black Caps take 4-0 Series Lead

Black Caps opener Lou Vincent showed another side to his batting as the Black Caps cruised to a 91-run win against the touring West Indians at Napier today.

Vincent, normally used as a hitting option at the top of the Black Caps order, played with patience and intelligence to record his second one-day international century as the Black Caps clocked up a mammoth 324/6 on a well-paced McLean Park pitch after being inserted by West Indies skipper Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

The Windies skipper may have been satisfied with the early overs, but the flow of the match changed shortly after he took the first powerplay in the 11th over.

A lofted straight drive from Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming off Ian Bradshaw signalled the start of a onslaught from the home batsmen.

Fleming, so often the classical strike-rotator, took 21 from that Bradshaw over, then welcomed Deighton Butler to the bowling crease by dispatching the left-armer over the point boundary in three successive balls.

Vincent was happy to take the back seat and watch Fleming blaze from the other end, turning the strike over to the skipper when he could.

But just when a seventh ODI century looked achievable for Fleming, he lazily wafted at a ball from Devon Smith on 67and the edge was snaffled by Denesh Ramdin.

If the Windies thought that would stem the flow of runs though, they were mistaken – as Vincent was joined by Nathan Astle for a 156-run partnership – a New Zealand record for the second-wicket.

Astle was clearly enjoying similar form to that which took him to a 16th ODI century earlier in the series at Christchurch, and was eventually dismissed for an 88-ball 81.

Shortly after Astle’s departure, Vincent brought up his second century in the shorter version of the game, after smashing 172 against Zimbabwe earlier this year. He eventually went for 102, while attempting to lift the pace, but his 117-ball knock, which included 10 fours and one six, was one of maturity and timing as New Zealand eyed up a total close to 350 from its 50 overs.

However, that was not to be, as a combination of average batting and great death bowling from Fidel Edwards kept New Zealand to 324, when 340-350 may have been on the cards with 10 overs to go.

Edwards stood out like a basketball forward at a dwarf convention in the West Indies bowling card, conceding only 23 runs in his 10 overs, in a game where his team mates were finding new ways of adding to the New Zealand score with poor bowling and fielding errors.

Black Caps debutant Ross Taylor showed glimpses of his ability before some lazy running cost him his wicket after knocking up a quickfire 15, while Brendon McCullum and Peter Fulton both added handy contributions towards the end of the innings.

The chase for 325 looked to be a tall order for the West Indies, and was made even tougher when Gayle was adjudged leg before to Kyle Mills for five. This brought Runako Morton to the crease, who settled in for the long haul.

Unfortunately, a lack of partners willing to stay with the 27-year-old for long periods made his task a losing one. Ramnaresh Sarwan added 42 in a 69-run partnership with Morton and Chanderpaul made a tidy 30, but the monster target never really looked in danger.

And any remaining fears were dispelled when the swashbuckling Dwayne Smith swashed and buckled, lobbing a catch to Styris for one, with 110 runs still needed off less than seven overs.

The only further moment of note as the game petered out was Morton’s maiden one-day international century, brought up off 141 balls, but his effort of 110 not out was a lone voice in a West Indies choir that struggled to tackle the tough Black Caps score.

Mills ended with the best figures for the Black Caps, with three for 45 off his ten overs, while Shane Bond enjoyed another tidy ten-over spell, picking up the wicket of Dwayne Bravo along the way.

The Black Caps will be keen to claim a 5-0 series whitewash in the final ODI at Auckland on Saturday, while the West Indies will be hoping for a morale-boosting win leading into the test series opener, also in Auckland on March 9.

New Zealand 324/6
L Vincent 102, N Astle 81, S Fleming 67
C Gayle 3/50, F Edwards 0/23

New Zealand won by 91 runs

West Indies 233/8
R Morton 110*, R Sarwan 42, S Chanderpaul 30
K Mills 3/45

Man of the Match
Lou Vincent 102.

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