Doug Bracewell took Chris Gayle's wicket with his first delivery for New Zealand in 16 months, helping the home side to a five-wicket win over the West Indies on Wednesday in the first of three one-day matches.
Man-of-the-match Bracewell ended a lengthy exile from international cricket by dismissing Gayle (22) and Shai Hope (0) in his first over. He went on to take 4/55, including the first and last wickets of the innings, as the West Indies were held to 248/9 in 50 overs after losing the toss.
An untried partnership between George Worker (57) and Colin Munro (49) put on 108 for the first wicket and Ross Taylor was stranded on 49 not out as New Zealand reached its winning target with four overs remaining to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Taylor was denied his 39th ODI half-century when the winning run came from a wide.
The second match is in Christchurch on Saturday.
Bracewell has been absent from the New Zealand team since he last played in a against India in Dharamsala in October was partly due to a knee injury but more the result of his latest disciplinary lapse. He was sentenced to community service in May for his third drink-driving offence. In his defence, Bracewell said he chose to drive home from a party to comfort his partner who had phoned to say their parrot had died.
He won a recall to the New Zealand squad for the current series only because regular allrounder Colin de Grandhomme had to return to his native Zimbabwe due to his father's death.
"It's been a bit of a tough road back but I've done a lot of hard work over the winter rehabbing, so it's nice to be back now," Bracewell said. "I've been out of the team through unfortunate circumstances but it's good to be back in the mix."
Bracewell grasped the opportunity of a more permanent return when he dismissed an out-of-sorts Gayle with his opening delivery. He hit a length which forced Gayle to play and the batsman flicked a fine edge to wicketkeeper Tom Latham. Two balls later Shai Hope was also undone by Bracewell's awkward length and provided Latham with another catch from the finest inside edge.
Hope challenged the decision unsuccessfully and that ultimately cost the wicket later in the innings of the West Indies' top-scorer Evin Lewis who made 76 in partnerships of 40 with Gayle and 62 with Shimron Hetmyer (29). Lewis was given out lbw to leg-spinner Todd Astle, who took 3/33 on his one-day international debut, although replays made it clear Astle's wrong-un was turning past off stump.
With no reviews remaining, Lewis was forced to accept the decision of umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin and his innings came to an end after 35.2 overs in a major setback to the West Indies. The tourists were 177/6 and looked unlikely to set New Zealand a challenging total until Rovman Powell hit 59 from 50 balls with two sixes and four fours before being the last man out.
Powell, who reached his first ODI half-century from 47 balls, with a six and a four off the bowling of Trent Boult, put on 45 in a valuable ninth-wicket partnership with Kesrick Williams, who ended 16 not out.
Worker and Munro's century stand in 16.4 overs set up the New Zealand run chase. Worker reached his half-century from 59 balls and went on to his highest score in his five ODI appearances while Munro fell one run short of his fifth half-century.
Ashley Nurse bowled Worker, caught Munro off Kesrick Williams, and dismissed Tom Latham (17) to finish with 2/55 with his skidding off breaks. Captain Jason Holder took 2/52 on a difficult pitch at Cobham Oval.
Gayle limped from the field early in the New Zealand innings but didn't appear to be seriously injured.
"It was a tough start to the series," Holder said. "We lost wickets at crucial stages of the game and never really got any momentum."
(With AP Inputs)