Kingston: All-rounder Odean Smith put in his career-best performances with both bat and ball in a valiant effort to win the opening contest for the West Indies. But his efforts went in vain as New Zealand registered a 13-run win over West Indies in the first T20I to take a 1-0 series lead.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Smith had impressive figures of 3-32 off his four overs and then smashed a whirlwind 27 not out off just 12 balls, but West Indies fell short of victory.
It was a match where West Indies had a brilliant fielding performance. Shimron Hetmyer took a one-handed catch on the ropes at deep point to remove Martin Guptill (16). Wicketkeeper Devon Thomas took a great catch to dismiss Devon Conway, and then Hayden Walsh dived full stretch at deep square leg to account for skipper Kane Williamson. All three catches came off the bowling of Smith.
Playing in his first international match since the Test series in England in June, Williamson led his side's score of 185-5 with 47 from 33 balls, laced with four fours and two sixes while left-hander Conway smashed 43 from 29 balls and also with four fours and two sixes.
Post rain interruption, New Zealand were in trouble at 98-3. Daryl Mitchell made 16, Glenn Phillips couldn't do much. But James Neesham smashed an unbeaten 15-ball 33 to give the Black Caps late impetus in a 36-run, unbroken sixth wicket partnership with Mitchell Santner (four not out).
In reply, Shamarh Brooks top-scored with 42, but his knock was a measured one requiring 43 deliveries. All-rounder Jason Holder got 25 from 19 balls before perishing at 114-7 at the back end of the 16th over.
Left with 72 runs to get from the last four overs, Romario Shepherd lashed a 16-ball unbeaten 31 (three sixes and a four) in a 58-run, unbroken, eighth wicket stand with Smith, who blasted a 12-ball unbeaten 27 (four fours and a six).
The duo got the equation down to 26 from the final over but other than for Shepherd's six over long on off the third ball from seamer Tim Southee, they were unable to perform the miracle needed for the West Indies.
For New Zealand, left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner was the pick of the bowlers, taking three crucial scalps and conceding just 19 runs from his four overs on his way to claiming Player of the Match award in a match where West Indies batting didn't click in unison.
Brief scores: New Zealand 185-5 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 47, Devon Conway 43; Odean Smith 3-32, Obed McCoy 1-39) beat West Indies 172-7 in 20 overs (Shamarh Brooks 42, Romario Shepherd 31 not out; Mitchell Santner 3-19, Lockie Ferguson 1-33) by 13 runs.