T20I: Rain ruins match after Munro’s 66 off 23 balls


New year, same old problems for West Indies. Their bowlers kept spraying the ball around, and Colin Munro shellacked 66 off 23 balls at a strike-rate of 286.95. Persistent rain, however, had the final say in the first international match of 2018.

Play was called off after just nine overs at 10.05pm local time. The washout left West Indies still winless on the tour of New Zealand, after seven international matches and two practice games. The third T20I on Wednesday is their last chance to avoid going home empty handed.

Munro had enjoyed a memorable start to 2017, smashing a 52-ball hundred against Bangladesh in Mount Maunganui. He then hit an equally brutal century in Rajkot in November to become the first batsman with two T20I hundreds in a year. On the first day of 2018, Munro threatened to rustle up his third T20I ton, after scoring New Zealand’s second-fastest T20I fifty off 18 balls, before ultimately holing out to long-on.

Fourteen of the 23 balls that Munro faced travelled to the boundary, including three sixes roughly in the direction of cow corner. He scored 93.93% of his runs in boundaries – the highest for a T20I innings of 50 or more. The mayhem began when West Indies’ most efficient bowler Samuel Badree struggled to grip the wet ball in the Powerplay, and conceded four boundaries to Munro in two overs.

Munro’s assault against Carlos Brathwaite and Kesrick Williams was like a volcano blowing its lid. He crunched the West Indies captain for four boundaries in four balls, before subjecting Williams to the same treatment. Then, the fast bowler tucked up Munro with the next ball and had him miscuing a loft to Rovman Powell at long-on.

Glenn Phillips’ first-ball six suggested there would be no respite for West Indies. But Badree and Ashley Nurse gave away only 16 runs off the next three overs while dismissing the hero of the previous game – Glenn Phillips – and Tom Bruce. Phillips was pinned lbw by a front-of-the-hand slider from Badree, before Brathwaite pulled off a jaw-dropping one-handed catch at short midwicket to remove Bruce. 

Kane Williamson, who had taken a break from the limited-overs series after playing the opener in Whangarei on December 20, had contributed only a run-a-ball 8 to the 75-run stand for the second wicket with Munro. He then pulled what would turn out to be the last ball of the game for four at 102-4. Andre Fletcher did not spot the ball in the deep and set off in the wrong direction, which summed up West Indies’ tour. 

In isolation, left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell, who had the best economy rate among the seamers in the 2017 CPL, showed better direction in the first over, after rain had delayed the start of play by 20 minutes. He extracted movement under overcast skies and had Martin Guptill nicking behind with his fourth ball. He and the other bowlers then faced the wrath of Munro before the rain. (ESPNCricinfo)

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