Glimpses of a glorious past
Amid the hype surrounding Sunil Narine playing his first home Test, West Indies' fast bowlers were forgotten. Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach did not have much to show for day one either, but they had tested New Zealand with the new ball. On the second day, however, they harried the batsmen and earned richer rewards.
When there's talk of today's great fast bowlers, the name of Dale Steyn is ever present, but the West Indians hardly feature. In years gone by they would have dominated the conversation. Two of those terrific quicks - Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop - are commentators for the Test series.
However, for a brief period with the second new ball before lunch, Roach and Rampaul seemed to turn the clock back to that golden era of West Indian fast bowling. They bowled hostile spells, aimed at causing maximum discomfort for the New Zealand batsmen, who had to duck and weave repeatedly.
New Zealand are perhaps used to this. In their previous Test, they faced 80.4 overs from Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Co, and survived to secure a draw. Kane Williamson scored a resolute 102 not out that day, proving why his talent is so highly regarded, but even he did not have answers today.
West Indies did not take the second new ball until the 107th over because Darren Sammy wanted to give Narine an extended spell and Rampaul was getting the old one to reverse. In the next 12 overs leading up to the lunch break, New Zealand were attacked by sustained short pitched bowling and lost Williamson and Dean Brownlie. Kruger van Wyk hopped and flopped on his backside and Daniel Vettori barely survived.
Roach should have had two in two. After testing Williamson with bounce, pace and movement for five balls of the 108th over, Roach had him prodding on the back foot and playing on. The next ball to the diminutive van Wyk appeared to brush the glove before Denesh Ramdin caught it down the leg side, but the umpire said not out. West Indies had no more reviews to challenge the decision either. An aggrieved Roach decided to channel his displeasure at van Wyk.
A sharp rising delivery that hit the glove and looped over the short leg fielder was followed by a mistimed pull that fell perilously close to the man at deep square leg. Roach was now properly enraged. Long follow-throughs and lingering stares ensued.
In the meantime, because the second new ball wasn't swinging as much as the first, Rampaul also followed Roach's plan of pitching short, pushing the batsmen back and making them play from the crease. After having been pulled for four, Rampaul had the final word in his contest with Brownlie. A fuller ball followed the short one and Brownlie, who had been conditioned to expect the bouncer, nicked to the wicketkeeper.
The New Zealand batsmen chanced their arm to accumulate whatever they could after lunch. Doug Bracewell, batting with Chris Martin and aware of how ephemeral the partnership could be, attacked Narine and Sammy for 39 off 30 deliveries. Rampaul ended that cameo as well.
In the 11 overs Rampaul and Roach bowled before lunch, they had taken 2 for 23 with five maidens. They finished the innings with combined figures of 46.1-17-99-4. Narine will scoop the accolades for taking a maiden five-for in his first home Test but the control, hostility and backbreaking work from Rampaul and Roach should not be forgotten.
For an hour on the second day, the Test cricket was thrilling. For an hour, Bishop and Ambrose probably had smiles on their faces, memories of their glorious past rekindled by Rampaul and Roach.
Subash Jayaraman is a freelancer, blogger and podcaster based in Pennsylvania. He tweets here