Benn unimpressed with flat pitch
Having toiled for the first two days on the field as New Zealand posted 508, West Indies left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn has said his team would not like to see such lifeless pitches being prepared for Test matches. Benn added that he was not in favour of doctoring surfaces to suit home teams, and was only asking for a "proper" Test pitch that had something in it for everyone.
"Personally, no, I don't think my team would like to see pitches of that sort," Benn said. "I am not saying it is not a sporting pitch but it is very flat. Not a lot has happened off the pitch. We played two seamers and two spinners and there was not enough assistance for four bowlers.
"I am not saying they prepare pitches to suit the home team. I am far from saying that. I am just saying that you want something that is going to spin, going to seam (and) you can bat on it as well. That is a proper Test match pitch."
Benn sent down 52 of the 174.3 overs in New Zealand's first innings, something he said was a "rude awakening" in his comeback international game. Offspinner Shane Shillingford bowled 46.3 overs on his West Indies return after undergoing corrective work on his action, and credited New Zealand for having showed the patience that was needed even on a placid surface to build a big score.
"Looking back when we started on the first day, we thought we would get more from the pitch, unfortunately that did not happen," Shillingford said. "Even though the pitch was a flat one, their guys played a patient game. They batted well, and did not take too much risk. This is what you would expect in Test cricket. I thought they handled it well and played well."
Both spinners were confident that the West Indies batsmen would be able to similarly thrive on the pitch like the New Zealanders had. Openers Chris Gayle and Kieran Powell batted out nine overs till stumps on day two and Shillingford said the Jamaican could lead the way in his 100th Test.
"The way he was looking at the ball carefully and selecting his shots I think it is a good opportunity for the big man to get a hundred in his 100th Test," Shillingford said. "We as a batting unit can do the same. We are very much capable of doing the same. They batted for two days, we bat for two days and that is how I see it."
Benn agreed, saying that West Indies' pursuit should be "fairly comfortable" given the nature of the pitch despite the size of New Zealand's score. "Obviously 500 is scoreboard pressure. As you have seen the pitch is fairly easy to bat on - flat as far as I am concerned," Benn said. "We try to get as close to those runs as possible, if not surpass. Some balls kept low but the ball was a bit older at that time. It is hard now and I don't think it will keep low so early in the game.
"We got guys there. Chris wants to do well in his 100th Test match. We got some young guys who need to get some runs under their belt. Everybody is looking to perform with the bat. Being on the field for two days is encouragement enough for you to go there and get some runs."