New Zealand down West Indies in ‘topsy-turvy’ opening T20

Auckland: Paceman Lockie Ferguson unleashed a devastating five-wicket barrage as New Zealand downed the West Indies in a roller coaster Twenty20 series opener in Auckland on Friday.

The match -- the first international cricket played in New Zealand for almost nine months -- produced a nail-biting finale as the Black Caps reached 179-5 in the final over after being set a target of 176.

Persistent showers meant the innings were reduced to 16 and many players, particularly the tourists, were rusty after only emerging from Covid-19 quarantine on Thursday.

But there were outstanding individual performances on both sides, particularly man of the match Ferguson and West Indies captain Kieron Pollard's unbeaten 75 from 37 balls.

Ferguson claimed a career-best haul of 5-21 to put the brakes on a flying start from the West Indies, saying the short boundaries at Eden Park helped his cause.

Pollard almost swung momentum back to the West Indies single-handedly, clubbing eight sixes and four fours to ensure his team set a competitive target.

"It was fantastic cricket, in terms of the ball flaying all over the boundaries," he said.

"It was a topsy-turvy sort of game, a bit of indiscipline showed with us on the bowling side."

Before play commenced, both sides took a knee in a gesture against racism, with the West Indies players each raising a black-gloved fist.

- 'Long time coming' -

West Indies opener Andre Fletcher smashed back-to-back sixes off debutant Kyle Jamieson, who conceded 18 from his first over in international T20.

The tourists were even more brutal against Hamish Bennett, plundering 29 runs from a nightmare over for the fast bowler.

They were 58 without loss before Ferguson broke through and clean-bowled Fletcher on 34.

The West Indies then lost five wickets for a single run over the course of 11 balls, with Ferguson claiming three scalps during the spell and captain Tim Southee two.

Pollard's contribution looked like it would prove decisive when New Zealand made a shaky start and veteran opener Martin Guptill departed for five.

They were soon 63 for four when Ross Taylor was run out.

The Black Caps' South African-born debutant Devon Conway and Jimmy Neesham were looking dangerous when Pollard broke their 77-run partnership when Conway was caught on 41. - AFP