Chanderpaul and Nash drive West Indies
Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued his dominance of world cricket by scoring his 20th Test century on the first day of the second and deciding Test against New Zealand at McLean Park. Chanderpaul's hundred was brought up with a flick off his hip to fine leg off Daniel Vettori just before stumps, with the innings steering West Indies to a useful 258 for 6.
His partnership of 163 for the fifth wicket with Brendan Nash was the highlight for the visitors after a shaky morning session which had them wobbling at 74 for 4. The stand took the initiative away from New Zealand but they hit back as West Indies limped to stumps with the late loss of Nash and Denesh Ramdin.
Chanderpaul, whose unbeaten 100 took him 214 balls with nine fours and three sixes, has produced an amazing 972 runs at 121.5 in 2008. The limits to his concentration seem immeasurable at present as he comes to the end of his second consecutive calendar year to yield an average of over 100.
Nash joined Chanderpaul at the stroke of lunch and their long and patient stay gave the visitors a fighting chance of posting a respectable first-innings total on a flat pitch. Chanderpaul soldiered on throughout the day but lost his mainstay with the score on 237. Nash presented Daniel Flynn with a gift at short cover off James Franklin with the new ball, and was disappointed at missing his maiden century in his second Test. He walked off for a well-compiled 74 off 162 balls.
Nash showed his natural talent and was strong square of the wicket. He cut nicely and collected runs off his pads, but also showed a very strong straight drive off the seamers and spinners.
West Indies' patience during the second session began to bear fruit as the New Zealand attack started to tire and become frustrated in the final session, before the second new ball was due. The pair's confidence also grew as they began to trust both the pitch and their own instincts to push the score past 200.
The New Zealand bowlers lost their patience and consistency through the latter stages of the second session and the beginning of the third as Chanderpaul and Nash prospered. However, Nash's dismissal opened the door for New Zealand.
The pair seemed to be shutting up shop with half an hour left before Nash's resistance came to an end. Ramdin looked very nervous as he was forced to bat during the toughest period of the day just before stumps. He left a straight one from Vettori which cannoned into off stump. With the loss of the last two wickets, the visitors surrendered a substantial amount of momentum which they gained through the Chanderpaul-Nash association.
The day ended in a similar note to how it began for New Zealand. West Indies, after winning the toss, squandered a golden opportunity in the first session with Ramnaresh Sarwan, Xavier Marshall and Sewnarine Chattergoon all falling to poor shot execution. Chris Gayle made 34 before being undone by O'Brien, who seamed one away and took the edge for Brendon McCullum to claim a simple catch.
Sarwan played a loose cut off Jeetan Patel and he too was caught behind by McCullum. Marshall made 6 before pushing at a ball from O'Brien and guiding it to Jesse Ryder at third slip, who took a good catch low down to his right. Chattergoon slashed hard at a half volley from Vettori and Jamie How claimed a very sharp chance at second slip high above his head. West Indies will need their most consistent batsman, Chanderpaul, to rally the lower order on the second day.
Marc Ellison is a freelance sports writer