Second Test

New Zealand v West Indies 2008-09

Don Cameron

At Napier, December 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 2008. Drawn. Toss: West Indies.


Chris Gayle plays the ball through midwicket, New Zealand v West Indies, 2nd Test, Napier, 5th day, December 23, 2008
Chris Gayle's marathon 197 was laced with seven sixes © Getty Images
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While the patricians of world cricket were absorbed elsewhere in remarkable Test matches at Chennai and Perth, New Zealand took on West Indies at McLean Park, which was being redeveloped as a 2011 World Rugby Cup venue: half of it looked like a bomb-site and the rest offered reserved seating for only two or three thousand. But at least this pleasant seaside city brought sunshine after the drizzling dross of Dunedin. The players reacted well to the warmth and the hard, reasonably fast pitch, and the result was much workmanlike cricket studded with a handful of brilliant solo deeds.

The first of these came when O'Brien, quickish but not really of classical fastbowling style, produced a superb first ball which moved enough to dismiss Gayle when he seemed set. Three quick wickets followed, but Chanderpaul - no stranger to rescue missions - settled in, and was helped in raising the score from 74 to 237 by Brendan Nash. A stylish left-handed newcomer of West Indian parents who had polished his cricket skills in Queensland, Nash scored well square on both sides of the wicket and also straight-drove nicely.

Chanderpaul was not in a hurry. He had seven at lunch, 44 by tea, and reached his 20th Test century shortly before the close. He was similarly studious next morning, but O'Brien conjured up more zip and movement from somewhere, and took the last four wickets for 16 in eight overs. The dogged Chanderpaul was left high and dry after 340 minutes of patient toil. O'Brien might not look stylish, but he worked extremely hard for his first Test five-for.

New Zealand lost the out-of-form How soon after lunch, but his new partner, Auckland's Tim McIntosh (they had become New Zealand's 18th different opening pair in 36 Tests in the previous match), had an astonishing piece of luck. He had toiled to 14 in 21 overs when he swished extravagantly at an Edwards bouncer. The ball went almost straight up: Edwards came hurtling from one direction, Ramdin the keeper from the opposite. A split second before the ball arrived they stopped - and the ball dropped between them near the edge of the pitch. Aged 29 and in only his second Test, McIntosh made the most of this schoolboy howler, putting on 118 for the second wicket before his fellow left-hander Flynn provided Edwards with his 100th Test wicket

McIntosh was a little freer on the third morning, helped by Ryder cracking a halfcentury from 61 balls, and moved confidently to his first Test century in 372 minutes, from 285 balls with 15 fours. He eventually fell at 316, after seven and a half hours, but New Zealand's hopes of a big total were dashed when Edwards ripped out the tail to finish with seven for 87, his best figures in Tests, finally - after 36 matches - surpassing his debut haul of five for 36 against Sri Lanka in June 2003.

West Indies lost Chattergoon and Sarwan before wiping off the deficit, and home victory hopes rose when Marshall and Chanderpaul fell to successive balls from Patel. But this brought out the best in Gayle, who put away his risky strokes and led a recovery, with Nash again an adhesive partner.

Gayle reached his century - rather surprisingly only his eighth, in 75 matches, and his first since hitting 317 against South Africa in May 2005 - and had reached 146 by the close. Next day he hurried his side past 300 with four fours in an O'Brien over, and seemed certain to reach 200. However, three runs short he contrived an unusual suicide: he chopped a ball from Patel down on to his boot, from where it bounced up gently for McCullum to catch. Gayle had batted 514 minutes, faced 396 balls, and hit 20 fours and seven sixes - 122 of his 197 runs came from boundaries.

New Zealand needed 312 for victory from 60 overs. McIntosh went quickly, and several of the others played themselves in only to get out when they needed to push on. How collected four fours in an over from Edwards which cost 19, but Edwards had his revenge shortly afterwards, and sent the batsman off with a word or two of advice. The chase was effectively called off after McCullum was given out caught behind by Rudi Koertzen. McCullum called for a review, but the replays were inconclusive and he had to go, swinging his bat in disgust. Soon afterwards, the draw was agreed, and the series was left tied at 0-0. It was probably the right result between two well-matched teams on a true pitch.

Man of the Match: C. H. Gayle.
Close of play: First day, West Indies 258-6 (Chanderpaul 100, Taylor 1); Second day, New Zealand 145-2 (McIntosh 62, Taylor 4); Third day, West Indies 62-2 (Gayle 36, Marshall 0); Fourth day, West Indies 278-7 (Gayle 146, Edwards 1).

© John Wisden & Co.