West Indies continued their record of not getting whitewashed at home in limited overs cricket against New Zealand by registering an eight wicket win in the third and the final T20I. They had a new captain in Rovman Powell, who rallied his troops admirably. They also finally got in Akeal Hosein, currently their best spinner, who made an immediate impact by taking two wickets in his first two overs.

The wear and tear from playing three matches on the same pitch were evident as the batters, especially from New Zealand, struggled to score freely. The hosts then put up their highest opening partnership in T20I at this venue and were clinical in chasing a below-par score. Both openers scored fifties (Brandon King 53, Shamarh Brooks 56*) before Powell dealt finishing punches in his unbeaten 15-ball 27. In this piece, we look at three talking points from the 3rd T20I.

Mitchell Santner at #3

To counter Akeal Hosein’s threat, New Zealand shuffled their batting order by sending in Mitchell Santner at #3. The move might have been a surprising one, but it had merit in it, irrespective of its eventual outcome.

Santner had only once batted at #3 before this game, but he scored an unbeaten 77 off just 42 balls in that inning. Moreover, his strike rate against left-arm orthodox bowlers is 145.45 – his best against any bowling type – significantly higher than Kane Williamson’s strike rate of 106.7 against the same bowling type. The move might not have paid off, but it shows NZ’s options against different matchups.

Odean Smith’s bowling

Ever since he took a beating against India in the 2nd T20I earlier this month, Odean Smith has transformed into a wicket-taking option for the West Indies. After that 2nd T20I against India, he had 10 wickets from 14 innings at an average of 42.7 and an economy rate of 10.95, with 2-24 being his best figures.

Since then, he has picked the same number of wickets in just four innings. In this match, he registered his career-best bowling figures (3-29) for the third time in four games (previously: 3-33 and 3-32), with his average and economy rate in the last four matches being 12.4 and 8.27, respectively. It has been a drastic change in form for the West Indian all-rounder, whose bowling progress adds more balance to his side.

Glenn Phillips’ imposing form

Glenn Phillips ended the series with another sublime inning of 41 runs off just 26 balls. Not only did he score the most runs in the series (134 runs), but he also had the best strike rate (171.79) for any batter with a minimum of 40 runs. 67.16% of his runs in the series came in boundaries alone. For his splendid efforts, Phillips was given the ‘Player of the Series’ award.

On a used pitch, Phillips and King were the only batters who made it seem like they were batting on a different surface. New Zealand’s inning never quite got going, and their batters couldn’t provide a final flourish. 146 could’ve been a tricky target, especially considering the West Indies’ weak game against spin, but on an off day for the Kiwi spinners, their openers ensured that they did most of the job by sharing an opening partnership worth 102 runs.

In the first inning, New Zealand’s Martin Guptill went past India’s Rohit Sharma to become the leading run-scorer in T20I. Guptill, who has had a forgettable series with the bat, now has 3,497 runs from 117 innings in T20I cricket. The two teams will move to Bridgetown, Barbados for the three ODIs. Barring a miracle, New Zealand look like favourites to win the ODI leg as well.