Thorough batting from New Zealand's top four sealed the fourth one-day match of the series against the West Indies.
The hosts triumphed by 58 runs, via Duckworth-Lewis Method once rain set in at 5.14pm. The players exited in the 34th over with the West Indies 134 for five chasing 286 for victory in Saxton Oval's debut as an international venue. The rain-adjusted target meant the visitors needed a par score of 192 to be level with New Zealand at the same point.
New Zealand's bowlers and fielders had ample runs to defend. The West Indies force the pace early, especially after losing both openers for ducks. The pace quartet conceded less than five-runs an over while Nathan McCullum and Kane Williamson spun 18 tidy overs to get New Zealand past the 20 overs required for a result. The fielding which included two in-field run outs to Williamson and Brendon McCullum (throwing to Luke Ronchi) was another core thread to victory. Sometimes it was as if the visitors had heard one too many Bob Marley songs over the PA system this tour and needed to make tracks before another one was inserted between overs.
The hosts 285 for six seemed commendable after choosing to bat, yet judging by early crowd reaction and Twitter wisdom, the New Zealanders were suddenly malfunctioning unless a six was delivered every 5.73 balls, like Queenstown. Sure, powerplays of 38 runs for the first 10 overs and 38 runs from overs 36 to 40 could have been amplified, but it was hardly a dirge. Horror of horrors, the first six only came at the end of the 17th over.
The reaction may have been skewed by a high proportion of the crowd, predominantly men, dressed in orange T-shirts hoping to win $100,000 with a one-handed catch in Tui beer's latest promotion. The upshot of just five sixes was that no children were trampled or hoardings flattened in the hunt to get rich quick. It's also important to remember the likes of Corey Anderson's New Year's Day heroics can't be produced every innings. The 23-year-old is still a fledgling talent.
Some fans are hard to please. Here was a team which, across most of 2013, struggled for consistency.
New Zealand has predominantly achieved it across the West Indies series in different conditions and formats, yet there was disbelief Guptill might be taking time to anchor the innings until the 42nd over with 81 off 119 balls. Sure, his initial stagnation of two off 29 balls stretched the patience but he had the support of Ryder (47 off 49) to maintain the tempo.
Ryder was fortuitous getting dropped on 12 through the gloves of Denesh Ramdin and on 14 through the hands of Dwayne Bravo at first slip. Kane Williamson (47 off 55) and Ross Taylor (49 off 44) sustained Ryder's flurry. The top four scored a collective 224 runs (79 per cent) of the total, enabling Brendon McCullum (14 off nine) and Corey Anderson (17 off 13) to flay late cameos.
Guptill and Williamson preferred to push singles and twos. Guptill stroked the ball in the 'V' and Williamson worked deliveries backward of square, pulled them through mid-wicket and produced Glenn Turner-esque chips to elude the in-field. There was a 50-ball gap from the start of the 17th over to second ball of the 25th where New Zealand could not score a boundary but the scoreboard never lost its pulse.
For the West Indies, Dwayne Bravo produced steady line and length aiming outside off stump. He had the best figures of two for 35 off seven overs. Tino Best was the only bowler to face serious punishment, finishing with one for 70 off nine overs. His extra pace enabled batsmen to get the ball to the boundary easier.
The wicket might have played a touch slow overall but, given Nelson's inclement weather in recent days it passed muster as it prepares to be a World Cup host.
New Zealand 285-6
West Indies 134-5 (lose by 58 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis Method) New Zealand lead the five-match series 2-1 with a match to play.