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December 10, 2013
News : Green pitch may stymie West Indies spin
News : Shillingford, Samuels face nervous Test
Preview : WI bullish after Dunedin fightback
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of New Zealand
Darren Sammy believes New Zealand played as well as they could do in the first Test in Dunedin, and has been buoyed by the fact they still ended winless even if that was in large part due to the final-day weather.
There was a noticeable confidence in Sammy's words the day before the second Test in Wellington and edginess from Brendon McCullum who has yet to experience a Test victory as captain despite his team dominating three out of the four home matches this year.
Unless a miraculous spell of bowling had emerged after tea on the final day in Dunedin, New Zealand would have emerged with their first victory of the year but the resilience of West Indies should not be discounted, which is what has given Sammy his cause for optimism.
"I think they were playing their best cricket and yet still they didn't get the victory they deserved," he said. "We are keen to put pressure on them. I don't know what their minds will be like. But if I was in that situation having dominated for so long and not get the result that was due to us, it would have been disappointing.
"But as professionals you have to pick yourself up again. Their bowlers will probably enjoy these conditions. I guess they'll come back even harder. The difference is that we have seen what they have. They put a lot of pressure on us and we were good enough to respond."
McCullum, unsurprisingly, had a different view on the outcome of the first Test and believes New Zealand remain very close to earning rewards that their cricket warrants.
"There was disappointment we weren't able to wrap it up, but we looked objectively and said we played some really good cricket," he said. "Whilst that's not always what's going to be discussed in the media, you've got to be strong as a group to know you're performing pretty well and we're not far away from getting Test wins."
Still, Sammy was able to draw on the fact that West Indies were able to save the Test - albeit with late weather intervention - without major second-innings contributions from Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
"It has done a lot for the team," Sammy said. "It was good to see Kirk [Edwards] coming back into the team and Deonarine [made fifty]. The mainstay was young Bravo. It was good to see we batted for long periods. It will not only give the team confidence but the individual players that they can get the job done when put under some serious pressure. That's what New Zealand did for us throughout the Test, we were always under pressure, but we handled it quite well."
Sammy also smiled at the prospect of being greeted by a green pitch, glanced his mind back to when West Indian sides were feared for their pace bowling, and suggested that this was now a way of negating West Indies' spin-bowling strength.
"We know New Zealand is green but to see the pitch like that - I could not foresee a West Indies team from back then being prepared a pitch like that. It shows how things have changed," he said. "The threat of Narine and Shillingford bowling on a fourth and fifth day pitch against them is in the back of their minds. They are at home, their squad is pace orientated and they have home advantage."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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