T20: Phillips, Conway and bowlers decimate West Indies to win series
SUMMARY: New Zealand 238-3 (Phillips 108, Conway 65*, Pollard 1-33) beat West Indies 166-9 (Pollard 28, Paul 26*, Jamieson 2-15, Santner 2-41) by 72 runs
New Zealand rode on a virtuoso performance from Glenn Phillips, who cracked a 46-ball century, the quickest in T20Is by a New Zealander, to take a winning 2-0 lead in the T20I series.
The highlight apart from his century was a record 183-run partnership with Devon Conway (65 not out) for the third wicket.
The bowlers and fielders backed up the batting effort, where New Zealand racked up their third-highest total in the format, superbly.
Phillips helped himself to a fantastic direct hit, swooping in from cover-point to run out Andre Fletcher, and two catches, one of them diving away to his right after running in from deep mid-wicket at full tilt towards wide long-on to get rid of debutant Kyle Mayers.
New Zealand’s spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, the latter brought into the team at the expense of Hamish Bennett, applied the choke.
They utilised a slow pitch and bright sunshine, in contrast to the rain and spittle of the first half the match, to their advantage to stymie the West Indies reply in the middle overs, after Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson had made early inroads.
Stand-in captain Tim Southee and Jimmy Neesham, the other two bowlers employed, also picked up wickets in a near-perfect performance.
A steady start with ball
Showers through the morning delayed the toss by 25 minutes. When conditions were deemed good enough to play, Kieron Pollard elected to bowl.
The early exchanges indicated a lack of pace and bounce on the wicket, with Martin Guptill and Tim Seifert needing to generate pace of their own against some early discipline from Sheldon Cottrell in particular.
However, Pollard himself set the tone for a poor fielding performance from his side, allowing a lofted Guptill drive off Mayers to graze his fingertips at mid-on and run away for four.
Pollard decided to hold Cottrell back after two overs for just 7, perhaps emboldened by how Oshane Thomas got Seifert to play on to his stumps, attempting a paddle shot, with two balls left in the powerplay.
Four balls later, Guptill fell to a fine tickle down the leg side off Fabian Allen, and New Zealand found themselves at 53 for 2, with a rebuild job for Conway and Phillips to do.
The partnership that took the game away
With a persistent drizzle hanging over the Bay Oval, Pollard decided to ration his specialist bowlers’ quotas, lest there be a reduction in overs, and brought himself and part-timer Rovman Powell on. It allowed Conway and Phillips to play themselves in, running hard after placing the ball between gaps in the outfield.
Once Phillips had accumulated nine off the first nine balls he faced, he waited on a Pollard slower ball, and whipped it over deep square leg to bring up his first six, from where there was no looking back. Phillips ended with 108 from 51, 88 of those in boundaries, including eight sixes, and scored all around the ground.
With strong forearms, electric bat speed, and decisive footwork, he drove, pulled and cut with venom as West Indies shoulders began to drop, allowing misfields and a general lack of discipline from the bowlers. Conway was the perfect complement, going at just over a run-a-ball, before exploding himself in the final overs.
There was a 22-minute interruption for rain shortly after Phillips brought up fifty, but how well Phillips and Conway accelerated can be gauged by the fact that 84 for 2 at the 10 over mark was doubled inside the next six. No bowler was spared — Allen’s left-arm spin travelled for 24 in the 13th over, Phillips following three successive sixes with an audacious switch hit for four.
Phillips did offer a chance at 88, holing out to Pollard at wide long-off in Cottrell’s final over, the 17th of the innings, but it was a full toss met above waist height with the batsman deep inside the crease. In the same over, Cottrell had sent an intended knuckle ball on one bounce to Shimron Hetmyer at short third man, and he finished with none for 40 off his four overs.
Phillips had his kneecap pop out again in the final over — a repetition of the freak injury he’d suffered on Friday — and after getting some treatment, he holed out to point against Pollard, but by then he had eclipsed Colin Munro’s record for the fastest T20I ton by a New Zealander, celebrating the milestone with a leap, a roar and outstretched arms.
Killing the chase off early
Fletcher took 10 off Southee’s first over, but Jamieson came in and yorked Brandon King with the first ball he bowled. Hetmyer walked in at three, but struggled to get going against pace, and Fletcher was done in by a smart bit of fielding from Phillips.
Ferguson came on and in his first over cranked the pace upwards of 150 kph. He also pinged Hetmyer on the helmet with a sharp bouncer that the latter had no time to respond to. Mayers, promoted to four, hit a couple of straight sixes, one each off Santner and Neesham, before perishing to a superb outfield catch by Phillips off the latter.
Nicholas Pooran tried to take the attack to Santner, but ended up top edging an intended swipe over mid-wicket and gave a return catch.
West Indies’ last hopes rested with Pollard, who raced to 28 off 14 after hitting Santner for successive sixes over cover, long-off and deep mid-wicket, but then went for another shot over wide long-off, only for Southee to complete a smart catch, staying clear of the ropes.
There were some lusty blows late in the piece by Keemo Paul, which eventually lifted him to second-highest scorer with 26* ahead of Hetmyer’s disappointing 25 off 32, but it was New Zealand who made all the running with bat, ball and eventually the field.
The third and final T20I will be played in Mount Maunganui on Monday, with Santner filling in for captain, as the Test regulars in the New Zealand team will be leaving to prepare for the series. (ESPNCricinfo)