Astle ton sets up NZ win

Christchurch, February 25:

An unbeaten 118 by Nathan Astle guided New Zealand to a 21-run win and an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five match one-day series against West Indies today.

Astle reached his 16th ODI century in the last over and he celebrated by smashing the last three balls of Chris Gayle’s over for six. To cap a special day, he took an astonishing leaping catch on the boundary as the West Indian challenge crumbled.

New Zealand batted first scoring 276-6 and in reply the West Indies were all out for 255.

New Zealand had to overcome another shaky start when they slumped to 87-4, while in contrast the West Indies squandered a promising first 20 overs which saw them reach 120/2.

Six wickets tumbled for 46 runs and only some late heroics by Ramnaresh Sarwan (65) and Ian Bradshaw (37) gave them a glimmer of hope in the last overs.

For New Zealand, speedster Shane Bond took 3-47 while young spinner Jeetan Patel provided more evidence of his promise with 3-42. But the day belonged to Astle. After scoring 90 in the first match in Wellington, he batted patiently through most of his latest innings. His 118 came off 126 balls and included seven fours and three sixes.

The only other major contribution came from Hamish Marshall who scored 43. He and Astle put on 99 runs together before Marshall holed out to Ganga at long on off Gayle’s bowling.

New Zealand accelerated in the last 10 overs, scoring 96 runs after becoming bogged down by some tight West Indian bowling. Ian Bradshaw was the best of the West Indies bowlers, taking 3-41 from his eight overs. Things started promisingly for New Zealand soon after they took the field, Bond skittling Daren Ganga for one in the second over with a perfect inswinging yorker.

Chris Gayle showed a glimpse of his class with a quickfire 38 off 23 balls before skying a slower ball from Michael Mason to Vettori at long on. Runako Morton kept the momentum going for the tourists, scoring 58 in a 62 ball innings which included seven fours and a six.

The West Indies collapse started when Morton skied Vettori to Franklin at long-on with the score on 127, triggering a collapse which saw them stumble to 173-8 by the 38th over.