NZ dismissed for 365 on rain-hit day
The weekend crowd at the University Oval finally got to watch some cricket after four sessions were lost to rain and New Zealand, under overcast skies, steered themselves to a position of safety by making 365. Jesse Ryder, well-set after a half-century on Thursday, led the way with 89 and ensured his side didn't collapse against a much-improved effort from West Indies' fast bowlers. The sun peeped out for the first time towards the end of the day and the West Indian openers, after a cautious start, picked up the pace and finished on 39 for no loss.
The prospect of getting a full day's play was bleak after overnight rain ruled out play for the first couple of hours. A helicopter and some blowers were used to dry the square and the groundstaff even used cat litter to firm up parts of the outfield. The players took an early lunch and play finally began at 2.45pm, three hours and 15 minutes past the scheduled start.
Though the conditions were chilly and overcast, the fast bowlers didn't get much seam movement early on and Jerome Taylor tried to attack the stumps by firing in yorkers. Brendon McCullum was watchful at first and allowed Ryder to take charge of the partnership but he soon grew in confidence and hit a couple of powerful boundaries on the off side.
Chris Gayle took the new ball in the 85th over and the move had immediate impact. Fidel Edwards softened up McCullum with consecutive deliveries that nearly grazed the outside edge but it was Taylor who forced the edge with one that seamed away. Ryder survived a couple of nervous moments: the first when an inside edge missed his stumps and then when he survived a review. A short delivery kept low and clipped the top of his pad, prompting an appeal from Daren Powell, who asked for a review after the umpire said not out. The third umpire Rudi Koertzen gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt on the basis of height.
Ryder had another life on 80, when he edged Edwards to second slip where Sewnarine Chattergoon dropped the catch. Edwards was finally rewarded with a wicket when he bowled a short ball to James Franklin, forcing him to hop on the backfoot and strike the stumps with his heel.
Ryder looked set to reach his maiden century but paid the price for getting too adventurous just before tea. Gayle replaced Edwards with Powell and he struck with his third delivery when Ryder mis-hit a pull from outside off to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at midwicket. After scoring 91 against Bangladesh recently, Ryder was left to rue another missed opportunity.
With so much time lost, Daniel Vettori looked to accelerate after tea with a flurry of boundaries. Gayle pushed the field back and Vettori fell to the trap, slashing to Xavier Marshall at deep point. He hadn't noticed the fielder as he took out his frustrations on the non-striker, Kyle Mills, for not pointing him out.
The tail frustrated West Indies by adding 38 for the last two wickets before Edwards mopped up. West Indies had an unsuccessful review against Mark Gillespie for a catch down the leg side but won one against Kyle Mills who was struck in front of the stumps. Powell and Edwards took three wickets apiece to match Gayle's effort on the opening day.
Gayle and Chattergoon were cautious at the start of their innings, scoring nine off the first six overs. Gayle then cut loose and was severe on anything wide outside off. He cracked Mills for two fours through the off side in the same over, pulled Gillespie past midwicket and followed up with a clubbed six to the same region. Chattergoon survived an lbw appeal, which was reviewed, and chose to play safe till stumps.
It was a positive start for West Indies and their aim tomorrow will be to play themselves in, weather permitting. Unless New Zealand make early inroads, this game could head towards a predictable draw.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo