In the first of three Twenty20 cricket internationals, New Zealand defeated the West Indies by a score of 13 runs thanks to a good innings of 47 from returning skipper Kane Williamson and a quick-fire 33 from 15 balls from Jimmy Neesham.

After being sent in to bat at Sabina Park on Wednesday, Neesham hit three fours from the last three balls and 23 runs from the final over of the innings to help New Zealand reach 185-5.

West Indies were held to 172-7 in 20 overs by New Zealand thanks to left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner’s 3-19.

Santner, who was chosen as the game’s player of the match, remarked that there were “a lot of spins,” which was a great surprise. “I believe that against these individuals, lengths are crucial. Back of a length worked well today because they can hit you quite far, and as a team, we were able to take up wickets, which was crucial. Two halves of New Zealand’s innings were split up by a protracted rain delay.

The visitors had a solid start thanks to openers Martin Guptill and Devon Conway, who put up 63 runs for the first wicket. However, the duo was bowled out by Odean Smith twice in a row, as he went on to register career-best T20 statistics of 3-32. Shimron Hetmeyer, who was backed up against the boundary at a deep point, made a spectacular one-handed catch to dismiss Guptill, and Conway’s innings of 43 from 29 were cut short when he top-edged a ball to wicketkeeper Devon Thomas.

With Williamson and Glenn Phillips at the wicket and New Zealand leading 95-2 in the 12th over, it started to rain. When play began after almost two hours of rest for the players, New Zealand soon lost Phillips for 17. The New Zealand innings temporarily lacked vigor, but Williamson gave it new life by scoring 33 runs off his next 18 deliveries. He was ultimately caught by Hayden Walsh, who rushed from mid-wicket to take an easy catch quickly, after another outstanding catch on the boundary.

Neesham hit a six with the first delivery of an over from Jason Holder’s bowling, in which Romario Shepherd also dropped him. Neesham’s three fours from the last three balls cost the West Indies, who ultimately lost.

West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran remarked, “We want to improve as a team, but in saying that I was delighted with the performances.” Santner bowled well, and Ish (Sodhi) escaped with a few runs. Scores between 175 and 180 are difficult for us. We are now a losing team, which is unfortunate since losing is infectious.

With 42 runs at nearly one run per ball, Shamarh Brooks provided the West Indies with a strong start to their innings. But after that, the momentum was inconsistent.

Pooran (with 15 from 8 balls), Holder (with 25 from 19), and Rovman Powell (18 from 12) all had chances to win the game but were unable to do so.

The West Indies’ hopes were finally stoked by Shepherd and Odean Smith, who added 50 runs in 23 balls for the eighth wicket.

Smith and Shepherd both hit unbeaten 31s from 16 balls for Shepherd and 27s for Smith. But with 26 runs needed in the last over, the West Indies found the challenge to be too much.