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The Bulletin by Anand Vasu
March 28, 2006
West Indies 256 for 4 (Morton 70*, Bravo 22*) v New Zealand
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
When Ian Howell and Mark Benson, the two men in the hot seat for the best past of this Test, called off play on the final day as the standing umpires, there was little surprise or disappointment. In the first four days, marred so badly by rain that less than 80 overs of play were possible, West Indies had reached 256 for 4. New Zealand had not yet contemplated finishing off the Windies, forget about responding.
Brian Lara, one of those batsmen who rarely let a series go by without performing, ensured that he did what he could in the little time he was afforded at the McLean Park in Napier. He had failed spectacularly in the series, leading up to this game, threatening to be a Shane Bond personal hat-trick, but played himself in solidly and did his reputation no harm as he got compactly behind everything New Zealand sent down.
Lara in full cry is a sight only the most churlish opponent would grudge, and the manner in which he pierced a packed off-side field was a lesson for every left-handed batsman in the New Zealand team. It was not to be one of his epics though, and on 83 off only 107 balls a mistimed pull off the diligent and clever Nathan Astle went back onto the stumps via the inside edge.
Where Lara was classy and fluent Runako Morton was energetic and powerful. The refreshing exuberance with which he drove on the up and pulled in front of square went a long way in erasing the despair at ending up in the same crease as his captain, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who was run out. The one thing that might have brought joy from this Test was a hundred for Morton, whose unbeaten 70 is his highest score in this form of the game.
When the end came though, wet and gloomy on Hawke's Bay, no-one laughed last. New Zealand had forfeited a real chance at blanking out the West Indies 3-0, and the men from the Islands had lost a chance at redemption. The scoreline will read 2-0 New Zealand, in the Tests, on the back of 4-1 in the one-dayers, and West Indies will have to return home emptyhanded.