THE tourists, chasing 190 for victory in Auckland on Saturday night, limped to 108-8.
The result was a big turnaround from the 203-run defeat the Black Caps suffered in the final one-dayer between the sides in Hamilton on Wednesday.
The West Indies couldn’t repeat their batting performance, with Andre Fletcher’s 23 their best score, while the home side tightened up their bowling.
Black Caps seamer Adam Milne showed plenty of express pace and one 150km/h ball claimed the scalp of opener Lendl Simmons, caught behind for a duck.
Jimmy Neesham chipped in with a tidy 3-16, but it was Nathan McCullum who did the main damage.
He celebrated his 50th appearance in a T20 with 4-24 and he was aided by some excellent catching.
Skipper Brendon McCullum, who contributed a half-century to New Zealand’s 189-5, was delighted with his side’s display, especially in the field.
“Our bowling was very good when it needed to be,” he said.
“Our fielding was brilliant and those catches were outstanding, but those things happen when the rest of your fielding performance is top drawer.”
Earlier, Ronchi produced his highest T20 score of 48, his runs coming in 25 balls and overshadowing his captain’s knock of 60 in their unbeaten 85-run partnership.
The former Australia representative hit seven boundaries, including four sixes, two of which came in a haul of 22 runs from one Sunil Narine over.
“It was a brilliant innings because it wasn’t that easy to score,” Brendon McCullum said.
“He really gave us the impetus we needed at the back end of the innings.”
West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo said chasing 190 was always going to be difficult and the regular loss of wickets increased the pressure.
He said the tourists were looking forward to the chance to turn the tables in the second and final T20 match in Wellington on Wednesday night and he had a light-hearted warning for his counterpart.
“It’s always good to be with our backs to the wall,” Bravo said.
“That’s when we’re the most dangerous, so Brendon, look out.”