New Zealand starts T20 series still unbeaten on Ireland tour
New Zealand earned a fourth straight win against Ireland to start their Twenty20 series 1-0 at Stormont.
Fresh off a 3-0 series win in the one-day internationals at Malahide, New Zealand won by 31 runs after posting 173-8 and bowling out Ireland for 142 with 10 balls to spare.
The Irish chase sputtered as no batter got a decent foothold and wickets fell regularly. Curtis Campher led with 29, one of only two scores above 15.
Lockie Ferguson spearheaded New Zealand's bowling with 4-14 in 20 balls. Jimmy Neesham and captain Mitchell Santner took two wickets each.
Set 174 to win, Ireland was cut down to 37-4 before the powerplay was over.
Andy Balbirnie fell to a great catch running back by Santner, Garth Delany and Paul Stirling were undone by Ferguson's slower ball, and Harry Tector edged Santner.
Lorcan Tucker also edged Santner, George Dockrell was caught in the deep off Ish Sodhi, and leading scorer Campher was trapped by a Ferguson yorker.
Mark Adair posed the last threat with 25 off 20 but he was taken in a double-wicket 17th over by Neesham.
The Black Caps had to bat first and were reduced to 54-4 but Glenn Phillips led the recovery with an unbeaten 69 and key partnerships with Neesham of 46 runs and Michael Bracewell of 45.
Ireland medium-pacer Josh Little took 4-35 by taking out Finn Allen and debutant Dane Cleaver, and returned in the 19th over to bowl debutant Bracewell and Santner.
But Phillips held out, first with Neesham who hit the sightscreen in a 29 off 16 balls, and with Bracewell, who made 21 off 13.
Phillips helped plunder 16 runs in the 18th over, reach his third T20 fifty in the 19th, and take 19, including six extras, off the last over. Phillips hit seven fours and a six.
The second of three matches is on Wednesday.