Windies beat NZ in Twenty20 eliminator
The West Indies beat New Zealand in a one-over eliminator after the teams were tied in the first Twenty20 cricket international at Eden Park.
Remarkably, as with the only other Twenty20 match between the teams, also at Eden Park in 2006, the scores finished in a tie.
On that occasion New Zealand won via a “bowl-off” tie-breaker in which bowlers from both teams simply had to hit the stumps.
Tonight's method was a “one-over eliminator”, seen on the international stage for the first time, in which the sides had just one over to score as much as possible.
Potent opener Gayle made no contest of it, smashing New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori for 25 all by himself, including three sixes into the packed grandstands and a four.
In response New Zealand lost the two maximum wickets allowed on their way to 15 to go down by 10 runs. Ross Taylor and Jacob Oram struck a six each before being dismissed.
Gayle's cameo followed his 197 in last week's drawn test at Napier and an outstanding innings today as his team attempted to chase down 155 for seven.
Striking straight with the authority of compatriot Vivian Richards in his prime, Gayle rushed to 67 off just 41 balls, peppering the small boundaries with five fours and five sixes.
He appeared to set up victory as his team reached 45 for one off the first four overs, including thumping 30 all by himself off the first two bowled by Tim Southee.
With the support of 28 from Xavier Marshall, the tourists were cruising at 114 for three and with six overs still in hand.
However, Gayle was caught in the deep off the bowling of Jeetan Patel, allowing a glimmer of hope for the New Zealanders.
The remainder of the West Indies chase stuttered and, needing seven to win off the last over bowled by Southee, they appeared stranded when scoring just one run and losing two wickets from the first four balls.
However, with two wickets in hand, Benn snicked a four and scrambled a single to create another deadlock.
The spin of Vettori and Patel got New Zealand back in the game, with Vettori taking an excellent three for 16 off his four overs.
Spinners Benn and Gayle were also the pick of the West Indies attack, while Ross Taylor was the standout New Zealand batsman.
Taylor was the spine of an innings that never truly fired, reaching 63 off 50 balls, featuring four fours and four sixes.
It is New Zealand's eight consecutive loss in the condensed version of the game.
The second and final Twenty20 international between the teams is at Hamilton on Sunday.