West Indies v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain, 4th day June 19, 2014

West Indies close in on elusive Test victory


New Zealand 221 (Latham 82, Taylor 4-34) and 257 for 8 (Williamson 52) lead West Indies 460 (Brathwaite 129, Bravo 109, Blackwood 63, Sodhi 4-96) by 18 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Innings and 51 runs, innings and 126 runs, innings and 73 runs, eight wickets, 186 runs - margins of defeat for West Indies in Tests over the past year. The wretched run prompted big changes: out went the perpetually under-pressure captain Darren Sammy, the bowling attack was revamped before this series, and the batting was rejigged before this Test. Barring an all-day torrential downpour on Friday, or something utterly sensational from the New Zealand tail, the sweeping changes are set to bear their first fruit in Port-of-Spain.

It's been a long time since West Indies dominated a Test against a top-eight side as they did this week. BJ Watling and Mark Craig may have frustrated the home side and the smattering of fans who showed up at Queen's Park Oval, but their ninth-wicket defiance never threatened to alter the balance of the match. Dwayne Bravo, the allrounder looking to make a Test return, was among those watching from the stands, dressed in bright pink that was appropriate for a post-victory party, but that celebration will have to wait a bit.

New Zealand began the day 166 behind, and though there was no sensational collapse, there weren't many substantial partnerships either as West Indies chipped away through the day. Curtly Ambrose, the West Indies' bowling coach, had given an animated speech during the team huddle at the start of the day, and he will be pleased that each of his specialist bowlers did their bit in the victory push.

In the 20th over of the day, Chris Gayle was looking at the sky and pumping his fists in delight, while the bowler Kemar Roach was unleashing a string of joyous whoops. West Indies had just got the rock of New Zealand's batting, Kane Williamson, ending his three-and-a-half-hour vigil.

Either side of the Williamson wicket, there were moments of magic from Sulieman Benn to prise out two more wickets. First, he bowled a ripper that reared off a length to take Tom Latham's glove on its way to silly point. Then, late in the morning session, he pulled off a bit of athleticism unexpected from the 6' 7" spinner, sticking out his right arm to pluck a low, hard return drive from Jimmy Neesham. The ball stuck in his palm, but Benn barely celebrated the astonishing catch - just the usual high-fives with his team-mates as though it was an everyday occurrence. Only a wide grin that remained for minutes after the dismissal betrayed how much he enjoyed that catch.

It was a Herculean effort from Benn, who bowled unchanged between the 26th and the 86th over, to tie up one end and allow the quicks time to recover. His efforts were even more crucial to the victory push as one of the three quicks, Shannon Gabriel who had a poor first innings, was given only five overs in the first 68 of the innings.

West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin turned to Gabriel after lunch, and the faith was rewarded. Ross Taylor and BJ Watling had been resisting gamely, but Gabriel tempted Taylor into driving one away from his body, resulting in a nick to the keeper.

That brought in Hamish Rutherford, who recovered from a stomach bug that prevented him from batting on Wednesday evening. Rutherford could be seen yawning a handful of overs before his turn to bat, but he had to be far more attentive in the middle as the seamers were getting the ball to dart around and Benn was also probing.

Watling again proved how reliable he is in the lower-middle order, but Rutherford showed that he has some way to go before becoming a consistent source of runs for New Zealand. He was squared up on his first delivery, fortunate not to edge it, but there were plenty of edges in his short innings after that. One dropped short of Chris Gayle at first slip, another flew through the vacant third slip area, another deflected the ball onto his pads. He finally perished offering no stroke to an incoming delivery during an outstanding spell from Jerome Taylor with the old ball.

When Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee perished soon after tea, a four-day finish seemed a dead certainty, but Craig and Watling survived 27.3 overs to take the game to the final day. An innings defeat was averted, but the lead is a mere 18, and Trinidad can expect their delayed victory party on Friday.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • brendan on June 22, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    reg, you assume wrong, I was more pointing to you saying Taylors dismissal was quite out of character, when he's been culpable of streakiness throughout his career, even if he has been for the most part awesome the last couple of years he's by no means completely eradicated it from his game.

    I don't think the 300 on it's own makes up for some poor performances in the past, but it's one of the finest performances in our test history and should be given due credit. Also the 200 in the 1st test (Bradman, Hammond, and McCullum only ones to achieve this). Add in the 100 supporting Taylor in the 1st test vs WI and it's a massive step in the right direction.

    Bet you were gushing in your praise of Taylor after the WI series but didn't offer a peep after the India series? Obviously just blinded by your Taylor fanboyism and dislike for McCullum.

    What is this "evidence" you speak of? Here's one stat for you. Specialist batsmen average of 41.47, would put him 7th all time for NZ.

  • Reg on June 20, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    to Weasel zapper - when you say i have a selective memory i assume you think i am deliberately forgetting McCullum's 302 against India. Absolutely not. The problem is that you think a score of 302 justifies strings of failures. I say absolutely not. It shows that he can play test cricket when he wants to. I think that makes the strings of failures less tolerable, as it shows that most of the time he's just not interested.

    There was a telling remark during the TV coverage of the latest England Sri Lankan test. Botham was talking about batsmen's attitudes, and he quoted Boycott: "Good batmen like batting, great ones love it". On the evidence, McCullum simply couldn't care less.

  • Peter A. on June 20, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    'So! It's Friday I need to get my average back up and since no cricket for the next 5 days, we can finish the match, get the formalities out of the way and head for St. James; after all it is Friday and we in TnT!!! "Smokey and Bunty" then a club!!! Yeah!' - I think someone had those thoughts. What you think? Congrats to Windies for a welcome (decisive) win. We could talk about whether it could or should have been by an innings or not " 'til the cows come home"; the fact is, a win is a win!!!! Enjoy the weekend and lets win the next one in like manner!!

  • Android on June 20, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    With WI winning today the test arena is pretty even with SA and Aus being the teams who are clearly ahead .Eng I would rank 3 rd .NZ Ind SL Pak are evenly matched teams with WI not so far behind if their young batsmen Bravo Brathwaite Blackwood show consistency and CG and Chanders can also do the same they have a decent batting lineup and with Taylor Roach coming back to form with Narine benn holder Shillingford they can potentially have a better test attack than Ind SL NZ and even Pak .In the subcontinent the three teams from subcontinent are way ahead along with SA .Eng Aus NZ WI struggle in subcontinent .Ban and Zim should not even be mentioned unfortunately but in the sub continent they still can prove a match for NZ WI .

  • Dummy on June 20, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    Now it look like Shane was fault West Indies lost that first test so that why he was drop. But you see now New Zealand still batting

  • Roy on June 20, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    WI.could've had this game won already, had Narine, Bishoo or Permaul selected.WICB. need to pick a full strength team and realize that we don't have test players in abundance at reserves.

  • brendan on June 20, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    @ reg, that's where we differ I guess, i'm a fan of both given they're the only 2 in the current set up who average more than 40 as specialist batsmen. I've uttered those words a fair few times for both of them over their careers too, thankfully alot less as of late. You must just have a fairly selective memory.

  • Reg on June 20, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    I am happy to declare myself a very big fan of Ross Taylor, but i have no trouble in saying that he played a very poor shot to get out. But I have to point out that it was a shot quite out of character, and everyone can be excused the odd poor decision. And that's the difference between Taylor & McCullum, because rotten shots are not out of character for McCullum. On the contrary, "that's the way he plays", as though that excuses it. So come on, weasel zapper - say it. "McCullum played a rotten shot". Once you start to face up to this reality you will soon get the hang of it, because I have no doubt that he'll give you endless chances to practice this little phrase . . .

  • steve on June 20, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    well we have been done by rain a few times from very strong positions e.g. west indies first test and england in dunners so for balance issue a nice rain save would even the slate....

  • David on June 20, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    @11_Warrior Negative cricket? Yeah, that will happen when you are 240 runs behind on the first innings. I suppose NZ could have gone out all guns blazing, and lost by an innings and 100 runs by lunch on day 4...but you know what? I like the fight they're showing. It's called Test cricket for a reason.

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