New Zealand v West Indies, 3rd Test, Hamilton, 1st day December 19, 2013

Ramdin helps pull WI back from the brink

Responding to their captain's call, Denesh Ramdin and Shivnarine Chanderpaul lifted West Indies to respectability on the first day in Hamilton. However, their fightback didn't hide the flaws in the West Indies batting

In the lead-up to the final Test, Brendon McCullum noted how wickets can fall in batches at Seddon Park. He was proved right on the opening day, during a 40-minute passage of play after lunch which appeared to have put the Test beyond the point of no return for West Indies.

That they remain with a chance of levelling the series is down to Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin, who formed a sixth-wicket stand of 200. It was a last-ditch rescue mission; although Darren Sammy is a capable batsman, West Indies' last four all made ducks in the Wellington first innings and did not go much better in the second.

That Chanderpaul was part of the bailout needs no further explanation or expansion. That Ramdin was his partner was just the response West Indies needed from their vice-captain and a player with 56 caps. Despite having had a consistent 18 months at Test level, with three of his four hundreds in that period and an average of 45.93, he had been a little anonymous in the series, with limited returns in front of the stumps (although victim of a stunning catch in Wellington) and untidy behind them.

However, this was a superbly constructed fourth Test hundred. It was the most significant of his four centuries. His first came in a high-scoring draw in Barbados (albeit West Indies were not safe when he came to the crease), his second in a dead Test at Edgbaston and his third on another flat one in Dhaka. This ton arrived with West Indies in disarray.

Ramdin had two lives, on 57 and 92, but crisply put away the loose deliveries. When he carved Trent Boult over the slips to bring up his hundred, he leapt, David Warner-like, in celebration. There was no note being pulled from his pocket this time in the style of Edgbaston in 2012, when he had a message for Viv Richards. He has learned from that error, instead there was more measured satisfaction.

"It's a little more relaxed now," Ramdin said of the dressing-room feeling after the fightback. "We were under some pressure, first day of a Test match and 80-odd for five. We needed a partnership. The legend, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, guided me through that period. I had a couple of chances, he just told me to tighten up and keep going. We worked in little partnerships. I enjoy batting with him and I guess today is an even day."

It was a day where West Indies needed senior players to respond to their captain's rallying call for hunger. Darren Bravo had been ruled out with an injured arm suffered in the nets yesterday and Shane Shillingford suspended for his action. Two of the seniors did, one of them let the side down.

Marlon Samuels has not had a good year in Test cricket. His average for 2013 is now 25.90 compared to his career mark of 35.84 and a 2012 return of 86.60. He has appeared distracted on this tour, distant when West Indies needed him to help cover for the absence of Chris Gayle.

He's had the cloud of his bowling action hanging over him - and his quicker ball has now been ruled illegal - but it is as a batsman that he has made his name and, in the broader picture of his career, it should not define him if he ever bowls again. West Indies aren't short on those to fill in with a few overs of spin. What they are short on are experienced Test batsmen.

Although he made a half-century in the first innings in Wellington, he was then all at sea against Tim Southee in the second. The feet were stuck. They weren't moving very well again here. Facing his ninth ball, he threw his hands into a drive away from his body and skewed a catch to gully, which Kane Williamson grasped at the third attempt.

At any time, the shot would have been loose but, to compound matters, it came at a bad time, too, shortly after Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards had fallen in the space of 13 deliveries. Whatever a batsman's natural inclination - and wanting to counter-attack is not without merit - it was a time just to leave a few deliveries alone.

Two overs later, when Narsingh Deonarine fell to one of those marginal lbws that often seem to go against a losing team, West Indies were facing embarrassment. Although they had been put in - the 10th Test in a row in New Zealand where a side had been inserted - conditions were the most benign they had been on a first day in the series. Enough factors really pointed towards it being a bat-first occasion, but McCullum likes to unleash his bowlers. However, unless New Zealand build a huge first-innings, it means they'll be chasing against West Indies' spin.

Either side of four wickets falling for nine runs in 34 balls, there was little to discomfort the batsmen. The bowlers began trying to force things to happen and but the pitch did not have the swing, seam or pace of Wellington. Ish Sodhi created the occasional moments of unease - and West Indies, having picked a spin-heavy attack will not have minded seeing a couple turn - but there were enough loose deliveries to keep the batsmen ticking.

It also showed how careless that period after lunch had been. It almost cost West Indies the Test on the first day. It may yet prove a key period, because this is a good batting surface but, for now, the contest remains alive after a partnership that helped restore pride in West Indies cricket.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Allanson on December 19, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    Good knocks by the tiger and Ramdin. Ramdin's innings is particularly pleasing because he has made "tough" runs when WI needed him too. We must not get distracted though, we will need at least 400 on this slow, flat pitch. All the best to the team in a couple hours - WI all di way!

  • Mark on December 19, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    An excellent partnership between Chanderpaul and Ramdin has restored some level of hope and pride to the West Indies following another patented collapse. Ramdin seems to have matured as a character and with the bat and could well be made the test captain after this series. I like the look of Kraigg Brathwaite as well. He is exactly what the West Indies need.....he's not flashy or likely to go after the bowling but appears content to bat time and bat sensibly. God knows the West Indies have enough dashers so a sober and sensible presence at the top of the order will do the West Indies a power of good. Him and Powell have the making of a long-term test partnership (provided Powell can get over his annoying habit of not going on after getting a start). Hopefully, Chanderpaul can marshal the West Indies up to 400 where they will be definitely in the game with NZ having to bat last against West Indies spinners.

  • Derek on December 19, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    @brentlew TV rights are sold well in advance of staging most live sports and groups go where they get the best atmosphere. It might be the comfort of ones living run, a bar with a large screen live telecast and so on. Entertainment is now brought to the masses rather than them going to it. That work best for most as in most cases spectators do not have to deal with queueing, people standing in front blocking their view and best of all. There is a rewind button when you are watching using a satal;ite service that allows you to pause, rewind etc.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    West Indies continues their accustomed batting performances - a relatively good start followed by a spectacular collapse. Wonderful revival act by Chanderpaul and Ramdin who should take over if Sammy is relieved of he captaincy. Apart from Chanderpaul all the other batsmen deserve to be given pressure on their inconsistency. It was indeed a sense of joy to see Vice-captain Ramdin score runs that was long long overdue. We may still have another batting collapse on day two, but let's hope that this does not happen. Any of these two weak teams can win this final Test match of the series.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    Great job Denish! I love the knock. Full of confidence and not rash. Keep it up you have talent, we have not seen it consistently but we are hopeful. Thank you Shiv! Make a big hundred, pass Border and do your best. Today is a good day to get over 200 and pass your highest test score.

  • Jithin on December 19, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Ramdin must be consistent though, so must be all of the WI batsmen.We have got lot of talent and technique in guys like Jr. Bravo, Powell, Brathwaite, Ramdin, etc. But none were performing consistently. This could also be a juncture in Ramdin's career, as he could be possibly the future WI test captain, once Sammy is sacked. He has the experience, but must deliver consistently. I don't think Jr. Bravo will be appointed as the captain, because just like Lara, he is not captaincy material. Kirk Edwards has also not performed and is not a permanent part of the test squad. That makes Ramdin the perfect choice. Sammy must captain in T20s, Sr. Bravo in ODIs and Ramdin in tests. Thats the way forward for WI.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    Well done, WI!

    Ramdin's was an especially masterful, hard-hitting and entertaining innings which, unfortunately, ended near the end of the day. But the legend Chanderpaul is still at the crease, on the verge of his 29th Test hundred.

    If Sammy could hold an end at resumption, he and Chanders could help put up a score near 400 hundred to give the Windies a good chance at leveling the series!

    New Zealand's decision to bat second appears to have backfired. Time will tell!

  • brent on December 19, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    With crowds as sparse as this, how is test cricket sustainable? Is it even financially viable? Or is test cricket going to depend on T-20/50 over cricket to fill the financial void?

    Finally the Windies batted a full day, and with some luck, can get past lunch with a score close to 400.

  • Ali on December 19, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    notably - two players Gibson and Sammy want off the team ...

  • kris on December 19, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    It is great to see some sought of fight from West Indies! All credit to Ramdin and "The Boss"! I agree with some of the comments as Ramdin is not a Sanga, Gilly etc but he has performed fairly ok compared to WI top order so he has "talk Nah with his Bat" !

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