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An excellent century from returning Kiwi skipper Ross Taylor (110) went in vain as the West Indies returned to winning ways thanks to some exceptional bowling at the death by Tino Best (4-46) and Sunil Narine (2-20) helped the hosts scrape together an exciting 24 run win in the fourth ODI at St. Kitts, thus taking the best of 5-match ODI series 3-1. The West Indies recovered from a horiffic start to the game to post a creditable 264 on the back of useful contributions from the middle order trio of Kieron Pollard (56), Marlon Samuels (46) and wicketkeeper Devon Thomas (37). Their cause was further boosted thanks to same late lusty blows by skipper Darren Sammy and Andre Russell, as the West Indies allrounders showed off their big hitting skills. New Zealand were very much in the hunt right through the contest, but Taylor just didn't get enough support from the rest of the side despite contrasting 30s from Rob Nicol and Tod Latham.
The fourth ODI between the West Indies and New Zealand saw the visitors looking like a completely different outfit on the back of that massive confidence boosting win in the first of three matches at St.Kitts. Both teams made a couple of changes with New Zealand boosted by the return of skipper Ross Taylor and attacking batsman Brendon McCullum. The West Indies meanwhile brought in Tino Best for Ravi Rampaul, while wicketkeeper Devon Thomas replaced Denesh Ramdin, who had taken some time off to get married.
The Windies made another poor start finding themselves at a crippling 26/3 at the end of 10 overs. Chris Gayle made a breezy 16 with a four and a six before finding himself trapped leg before by Tim Southee, who is quickly becoming his bogeyman in this series. Johnson Charles (1) and Dwayne Smith (0) failed to make a significant contribution as the hosts slipped into a world of trouble.
Marlon Samuels (46) and Dwayne Bravo (18) stemmed the rot by stitching together a slow but very necessary 39 run stand for the fourth wicket before the latter fell to Jacob Oram. Another 46 run stand followed between Samuels and Devon Thomas (37), with the latter showing good skill with the bat in a rare opportunity to impress.
Samuels fell in the 26th over just shy of his half-century leaving the West Indies in a spot of bother at 105-5 before Thomas and Kieron Pollard (56) rescued the innings again with an 85-run stand for the 6th wicket to propel the hosts close to 200. Thomas couldn't believe his luck when he chipped a full toss from part-timer Rob Nicol straight to the fielder at short cover to end the vital stand.
Pollard fell soon after, caught skying an attempted pull, but the innings did not falter with Darren Sammy (26) and Andre Russell (29) giving the side a late boost to push the score past 250. The West Indies were eventually bowled out for 264, one ball shy of their 50 overs.
The run chase proved to be a nerve-wracking affair with Rob Nicol getting the visitors off to a lightning start. At the other end though the Kiwis were losing wickets at regular intervals with Martin Guptill (0) and Brendon McCullum (10) falling to Tino Best and Andre Russell respectively. Nicol though ensured that New Zealand were never behind the run rate, and were in fact scoring at close to 9 an over in the early exchanges. The departure of McCullum though forced Nicol to be more cautious, and the scoring rate dropped. Nicol fell victim to Darren Sammy for 35 in the 11th over and the Kiwis were about to once again run into the one bowler they have struggled with all tour, Sunil Narine.
Narine quickly removed Kane Williamson for 3 before tying down returning skipper Ross Taylor and Tod Latham in the middle overs of the innings. Taylor and Latham though produced a crucial partnership for their side, but the runs came far too slowly. The 50 of the partnership was accomplished in 99 balls, but the duo kicked on from there, taking their score to 146-4 in 33 overs when the final drinks break was taken. At that stage New Zealand needed another 118 runs to win from 102 balls, a very makeable target.
The batting powerplay further boosted their chances as the Kiwis scored 36 runs for the loss of Latham (32) in that 5 over window. Skipper Taylor meanwhile brought up his half-century off 79 deliveries to keep his side very much in the contest. Taylor upped the ante by taking 16 runs from the 40th over, including depositing Marlon Samuels in the stands twice.
With 79 needed from the last 10 overs, it was definitely game on. A pair of quiet overs were followed by a 21 run explosion from the blade of the Kiwi skipper as Andre Russell was taken to the cleaners as Taylor rushed into the 90s. Sadly for the New Zealand captain though he failed to get any support from the other end as Jacob Oram's painful stay was ended by Tino Best for 6 (18b).
While Taylor brought up his century in 108 deliveries, scoring his second 50 in an incredible 29 balls, Sunil Narine kept things tight down one end, giving away 14 runs from the 4 overs he bowled at the death.
With 28 needed from the last 2 overs, Taylor perished for 110, caught by his opposite number off Tino Best, who ended up with 4 wickets as a result. The New Zealand skipper's exit effectively ended the contest, and the visitors were bowled out in the final over for 240, thereby conceding the series 3-1.
The two teams will resume what promises to be an exciting battle in the fifth and final ODI of the series right here at St. Kitts on Monday.
West Indies: C Gayle, J Charles, D Smith, M Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, K Pollard, A Russell, D Thomas (wk), D Sammy (c), T Best, S Narine
New Zealand: R Nicol, M Guptill, K Williamson, R Taylor (c), T Latham (wk), B McCullum, J Oram, N McCullum, K Mills, T Boult, T Southee
West Indies 264 all out (49.5 overs, 5.29 rpo)
K Pollard 56 (70) T Southee 3-53
M Samuels 46 (64) J Oram 3-42
New Zealand 240 all out (49.3 overs, 4.84 rpo)
R Taylor 110 (115) T Best 4-46
R Nicol 35 (32) S Narine 2-20
West Indies win by 24 runs
Photograph Courtesy DigicelCricket.com/Brooks LaTouche
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