Opener Chris Gayle walks off after failing to score in the third Twenty20 International. (CMC)
MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand – Woeful West Indies ended their ill-fated tour of New Zealand in the same wretched manner in which it started, plummeting to a heavy 119-run defeat in the final Twenty20 International here Wednesday.
Colin Munro’s record-breaking third career T20I hundred of 104 was the catalyst behind the hosts’ imperious 243 for five off their 20 overs – their highest-ever total in the shortest format.
Fellow opener Martin Guptill stroked 63 and Tom Bruce, 23, ensuring New Zealand maintained their momentum to gather the seventh-highest total in T20s.
In reply, West Indies produced yet another dismal batting performance, collapsing to a depressing 124 all out in the 17th over.
Only Andre Fletcher with a polished 46 from 32 balls showed any sense of purpose, and was one of only three frontline batsmen to reach double figures and the only one to pass 20.
The Caribbean side’s woes were compounded by the unavailability of Shai Hope who injured his shoulder while fielding and was unable to bat.
Not for the first time this tour, the Windies were tormented by seamer Tim Southee (3-21) and new-ball partner Trent Boult (2-29) while leg-spinner Ish Sodhi claimed two for 25, as the Black Caps claimed their biggest-ever win in T20s and the third largest overall.
For West Indies, the defeat was their seventh on tour in internationals, after losing both Tests, all three one-dayers and two T20s. The second T20I was washed out after just nine overs on New Year’s Day.
The reigning T20 World champions have also now lost six of their last 12 matches in the shortest format.
Opting to bat first at Bay Oval, New Zealand were propelled by a 136-run opening stand between Munro and Guptill – the country’s third-highest stand for any wicket in T20s.
The left-handed Munro was utterly dominant en route to his third score of fifty or more in the series, facing 53 balls and striking three fours and 10 sixes.
No Windies bowler was spared from the 30-year-old’s brutal all-out assault, as he raced to his half-century off 26 balls before reaching three figures off 47 deliveries to mark the fastest-ever hundred for New Zealand in T20s and joint sixth-fastest of all time.
He also became the first batsman to score three hundreds in T20Is.
Guptill, meanwhile, was more than just a spectator, lashing five fours and a pair of sixes in a 38-ball knock – his 11th half-century in this format.
With the Windies bowlers loose, the pair cashed in, plundering 52 off the first five and 118 at the half-way point of the innings.
Debutant medium pacer Rayad Emrit’s first two deliveries in T20 cricket were greeted with a couple of leg-side sixes by Munro, in an over which leaked 16 runs and saw the South Africa-born dynamo to his half-century.
Guptill eventually edged a wide one from Emrit to fall to a catch at the wicket in the 12th over but Munro and Bruce kept the pressure on the Windies in a 55-run, second wicket partnership.
Even when the hosts lost four wickets for 35 runs in 19 deliveries, the runs kept flowing with 60 runs gushing from the last five overs.
The Windies then had a disastrous start to their run chase when Chadwick Walton drove the first ball of the innings from Southee into Munro’s lap at cover.
Four balls later, superstar Chris Gayle was surprised by a short ball and gloved a simple catch behind to depart without scoring, leaving the Windies tottering on one run for two wickets.
Fletcher and Rovman Powell (16) then staged the best partnership of the innings, putting on 41 for the third wicket.
The right-handed Fletcher struck four fours and three sixes – two of which were sweetly-timed back-to-back inside out blows over extra cover in the sixth over by left-arm spinner Anaru Kitchen which went for 20 runs.
Powell holed out to cover off Kitchen in the fourth over and Shimron Hetmyer was tragically run out for seven in the fifth over, leaving West Indies on 49 for four.
Fletcher posted 31 off 20 balls for the fifth wicket with captain Carlos Brathwaite (15) to temporarily stem the flow of wickets but once the Grenadian missed a heave at a straight one from Sodhi and was bowled off-stump, the last four wickets tumbled for 44 runs. (CMC)