Within a span of a few hours, New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham turned from villain to hero as he spearheaded a big chase for his country against West Indies on their return to competitive cricket. The Kiwi all-rounder’s efforts in a rain curtailed game at Eden Park, Auckland ensured that New Zealand ended a run of five consecutive losses in T20 Internationals, and made a winning start to their cricketing summer.
West Indies batted first on the day and got to a strong score of 180/7 in a rain-curtailed 16 over game. Kieron Pollard was the prime aggressor for his country, scoring a commanding 75 off just 37 balls. Jimmy Neesham was at the receiving end of that carnage from Pollard, being hit for 23 runs in his final over.
The 30-year-old all-rounder however proved to be the redeemer with the bat in hand, top scoring in that chase with 48. Neesham walked in to bat when his side were in deep trouble, struggling at 63/4 after seven overs. Despite being the last recognised batsman in that side, Neesham did not let the pressure or the situation affect his gameplay, as he took on the West Indian bowlers from the get go.
Neesham’s innings was studded with five fours and three sixes, and fast bowler Kesrick Williams faced the wrath of his carnage, as his second over was hit for 23 runs. The southpaw, who represents Kings XI Punjab in the Dream11 Indian Premier League, was ably supported by Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner, who scored 41 and 31 respectively to give the Kiwis a thrilling victory to go one up in this five match series.
The all-rounder played five matches in the 2020 IPL, picking up two wickets and finishing one game with bat in hand too against finalists Delhi Capitals for his franchise. Neesham seems to have grown from strength to strength heading into International cricket, and Kiwi cricket fans would hope for the same to continue as their cricket summer moves along.
Economical Cottrell shines for Windies
Sheldon Cottrell, who also represents Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, was the one silver lining for the West Indies in the bowling department. He was the most economical of the lot, conceding just 31 runs in his four overs, while four of his compatriots had an economy rate in excess of 10. The muscular pacer also picked up the wicket of Martin Guptill in the very first over, giving his team a good start which they unfortunately could not carry forward.