West Indies Women 115 (Alleyne 49, A Kerr 3-16, Jonas 2-13, Devine 2-15) beat New Zealand Women 114 for 9 (Rowe 27*, Henry 3-26, Fletcher 2-18) by one run
A spirited bowling show helped West Indies edge New Zealand out by a run in the first of five T20Is in North Sound. In a low-scoring match, it was Chinelle Henry's new-ball spell that proved decisive as the hosts staved off the Hannah Rowe threat in the final over.
Chasing a mere 116, New Zealand needed an unlikely 20 from the last over with just one wicket left. Rowe attacked Aaliyah Alleyne with a four off the first ball but with 12 needed from the final two deliveries, she could manage only a four and six.
Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates had started New Zealand's chase with a four each in the opening over, bowled by Alleyne. But in the third over, Henry trapped Bates lbw for 5. Devine then lofted the seamer over wide long-on for a six but Henry had her caught at mid-on in her next over. In between, Hayley Matthews had Georgia Plimmer holing out to long-on.
Henry was in the thick of it again when she brilliantly caught Amelia Kerr off her own bowling and then saw Maddy Green run out two balls later. After being reduced to 46 for 5 in seven overs, New Zealand could not recover as spinners Matthews, Karishma Ramharack and Afy Fletcher further applied the squeeze.
Earlier, New Zealand won the toss and put West Indies in, in their first T20I since Deandra Dottin's shock retirement last month. Matthews walked out to open with wicketkeeper-batter Natasha McLean, who was playing a T20I after two years. However, it was a short stay for McLean, with left-arm spinner Fran Jonas dismissing her for a first-ball duck. Batting at No. 3, Alleyne then stitched a 66-run stand in 55 balls with Matthews in. The pair was happy to see off Jonas with minimum fuss and attack the seamers, Rowe and Lea Tahuhu.
Kerr's, though, hampered West Indies' progress by sending back Matthews and Alleyne in back-to-back overs. West Indies lost their last six wickets in 31 runs - three of those wickets came in the form of run-outs - as they were bowled out for 115.
Their bowlers, though, ensured it was just enough to register a win.
"The coaches told us to go out there and be fearless," Henry said after the game. "We wanted more than 115 but that didn't happen, so we went out there as a bowling unit to get the job done. Going into the second game, we're obviously looking to improve in both batting and bowling. To see Aaliyah going out at No. 3 and almost getting her maiden T20I half-century showed that we have a lot of depth in the squad, so it's just for us to keep up that team performance."