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December 7, 2013
Darren Sammy feared he was enduring a repeat of the dreadful India tour midway through the first Test in Dunedin. He even joked that "not many people will have expected to be sat here at 6.30 pm on Saturday," as he reflected on what must go down as a great escape, even though rain played a vital role in the final session.
West Indies were welcomed to New Zealand with lowly expectations - hardly surprising given only two of their players had played here before and half the squad had barely two days to prepare - and Sammy had noted a few references to them being the worst West Indian side to visit the country. He did not offer the forceful response some may have made to that claim, he is more understated than that, but his satisfaction at how his side improved over the second half of the Test was clear.
The obvious example was Darren Bravo's 218, but because of contributions from Kirk Edwards, Narsingh Deonarine and the captain himself, West Indies managed their fourth highest second-innings total ever. Then Shane Shillingford, who is playing with uncertainty still surrounding his action as the report from testing is awaited, gave New Zealand's top order a scare by taking four wickets. Briefly, it was debatable which side wanted the rain more.
"We came from India, where we had a miserable Test series," Sammy said. "We came here, we had two-and-a-half days to prepare in conditions that three quarters of my side have not been in and it showed in the first two innings of the match.
"Winning the toss on a grassy top with a little bit of moisture, I don't think in the first couple of overs we put any ball in the six-metre line, we were all over the place and hence we were facing 600. Then our turn at the crease, I thought it was all India again."
When asked if the final outcome, after West Indies had batted 162.1 overs in their second innings, felt almost like a victory, Sammy said: "Yes, from the situation of being asked to follow-on with a deficit of 400, it was important that we occupy the crease for long periods and I bet on the third day nobody expected to be here at 6.30.
"Credit must go to Darren Bravo. It is a morale boost for the guys, especially coming from India. I heard some commentator say this is worst West Indies team coming to New Zealand. We knew it would be difficult, so we are quite happy with the result from position we were in in the first innings."
The draw meant Bravo's innings, which ended early on the final morning when he was bowled by a shooter from Trent Boult, was added to one of cricket's quirkier records: there are now seven double-hundreds made in follow-ons and none have come in a defeat.
"That was a real mature innings," Sammy said. "Somebody had to put their hand up for the team and one of the youngest guys did it. He models himself on his cousin, Brian [Lara]. I guess even the great Lara would have been proud of that innings. It was a match-saving innings and we are all happy for him. It will give us more confidence going into the second Test."
Sammy, meanwhile, was hopeful he would be able to play a full part in the Wellington Test despite his glute strain, which prevented him from bowling early on the second day. "I will look at it over next two days. I'll give it a go. I think with the combination of our squad it's important that I am able to bowl so I'll give it my best shot."
Kraigg Brathwaite, the opening batsman who had visa difficulties, is expected to arrive in Wellington on Monday, where he will link up with the squad although changes to West Indies' top order are unlikely.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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