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The Report by Kanishkaa Balachandran
July 27, 2012
West Indies 442 for 6 (Gayle 150, Powell 134, Fudadin 55, Deonarine 54*) lead New Zealand 351 by 91 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Centuries by Chris Gayle and Kieran Powell, who put on 254 for the first wicket, put West Indies on the path to securing a sizeable first-innings lead, but a few late strikes after tea gave New Zealand an opening. Gayle and Powell extended the hosts' dominance by batting out the morning session, but the other top-order batsmen couldn't quite carry on after making starts. Assad Fudadin and Narsingh Deonarine made patient half-centuries to ensure West Indies didn't capitulate after the start provided by the openers and, by stumps, their team still held the upper hand, leading by 91.
New Zealand created opportunities with the swing on offer with the new ball, but once the batsmen had seen off that period, the visitors were left waiting for mistakes. New Zealand were hurt by the fact that their best and most experienced bowler, Daniel Vettori, couldn't pick up a wicket. Kane Williamson bowled 20 overs, the most he has ever bowled in a Test, and picked up two.
Gayle carried on from where he left off, piloting the innings. Given his stupendous limited-overs form, a Test century was there for the taking against a bowling attack low on confidence and form. Gayle started the day with a flat six over long-off off Vettori to take him to the nineties. Keen to reach his landmark in style he pulled a short delivery by Chris Martin and just about cleared the rope to get from 97 to 103. Gayle punched the air and acknowledged his 14th Test century, one that will be talked about for long, given it came after an exile of one-and-a-half years.
New Zealand relied on Neil Wagner's reverse swing to possibly sneak in a wicket or two with the old ball. With the ball swinging in sharply towards the pads, a silly mid-on and short midwicket was placed for the checked drive. It didn't change New Zealand's luck as Powell managed to chip it over midwicket and keep out the fuller deliveries. One one occasion, Gayle miscued an on-drive and yet managed to beat mid-on comfortably. It was that sort of morning for New Zealand.
The patient Powell couldn't resist a slash over gully that brought up the double-century opening stand, the ninth in West Indies history. It was also the highest partnership for any wicket by West Indies since December 2010, when Gayle last played a Test. It only underlined Gayle's impact and how much his team missed him.
Gayle offered his second chance of the innings when the ball turned, kissed the glove and lobbed to first slip where Ross Taylor fluffed a straightforward take. New Zealand didn't get too many chances coming their way, and they will wonder what could have been had they halted Gayle on 36 yesterday.
Gayle added only four to his score after lunch when he tried to clear Williamson over long-off but was caught well in front of the rope. Powell got to his maiden Test century with a flourish just as Gayle had done earlier, hittiing a boundary. There were two fielders placed in the deep on the on side and he managed to place it between them with a strong pull off Wagner. It was the first time in 13 years that both West Indies openers had hit centuries in an innings, the last pair being Sherwin Campbell and Adrian Griffith in Hamilton in 1999.
The new ball, taken after 83 overs with West Indies at 269 for 1, posed questions straightaway as Doug Bracewell teased the left-handers with his inswing. There were a couple of marginal lbw shouts against Powell and Fudadin, but the ball looked to be missing the leg stump. The left-handed pair looked more comfortable with the ball swinging away as they fetched boundaries through the off side.
Powell looked good to carry on to a big hundred when he took on Wagner for three consecutive fours through the off side, including a scoop over mid-off. However, he fell off the fourth, chasing a delivery well wide of the off stump and feathering an edge to the keeper to give a pumped-up Wagner his first Test wicket. Marlon Samuels survived a testing first delivery, deflected down the leg side, and a run-out. Samuels failed to carry on after making a start, inside-edging Martin to his leg stump. Martin struck again in the first ball of his next over when he had Shivnarine Chanderpaul gloving a snorter to Kruger van Wyk. It was his sixth first-ball duck and the third time he failed to score against New Zealand.
The double-strike suddenly put West Indies on the back foot, but Deonarine and Fudadin did well to weather the storm. Fudadin played shots on both sides of the wicket and picked up seven boundaries, but, like Gayle, perished while going for the big hit. Denesh Ramdin chopped a short delivery onto his stumps shortly before close, joining the list of those who threw their wickets away.
Deonarine played a couple of adventurous strokes, including a straight six off Wagner as he neared his fifty. As a statement of intent, he swung the last ball of the day for a boundary. New Zealand did well to script a comeback in the final session, but another tough day awaits.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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