West Indies coach John Dyson has said his team deserves credit for pushing New Zealand in an evenly-contested draw in the final Test of the two-match series. A series of convincing individual performances ensured an outright result was never in prospect in the decider, but Dyson said earning a draw was "better than losing".
"We came here obviously trying to win, as the first match was affected by the weather. We expected a very good pitch here and that's what we got. I'm pleased with the way the team fought throughout this match," Dyson said. "At no point in this match did we give up and that is what I'm very pleased about. It ended up a pretty good game and could have gone either way in the final afternoon."
Key contributors to the draw in Napier were the Australian-born Brendan Nash, with scores of 74 and 65, and fast bowler Fidel Edwards, who took a career-best 7 for 87 in the first innings before making an invaluable 20 with centurion Chris Gayle to delay New Zealand's second innings until only 60 overs were available.Nash featured in crucial partnerships in both innings to stall New Zealand's progress. In the second innings West Indies were effectively 42 for 4 when he combined with Gayle to add 124 for the fifth wicket. "He's done very well for his first series," said Dyson.
West Indies' second-innings 375 was largely down to Gayle's 197, a vital knock which spanned roughly eight-and-a-half hours, and contributions from the lower order. Though he was out first ball in the second innings, Shivnarine Chanderpaul made a vital century in the first on a batting pitch where taking 20 wickets was not easy.
The drawn series means West Indies remain at seventh place and New Zealand one behind them on the ICC Test rankings.
Daniel Vettori, meanwhile, identified opener Tim McIntosh and Jamie How as positives from the series - one that extended New Zealand's unbeaten record against West Indies to ten Tests, five won and five drawn, dating back to a ten-wicket loss at Bridgetown in 1996.
McIntosh, in his second Test, batted for 455 minutes for his first-innings 136 in Napier, and that pleased his captain. "It was an openers' hundred, I think as a New Zealand team that's something we've been crying out for for a long time," said Vettori.
In the second innings, How snapped a series of low scores with a 65-ball 56. Vettori backed How, a sign that the 27-year-old may feature in the home series against India in March-April. "I'm a very big fan of Jamie, in my mind I want him to play as much as possible," said Vettori. "The selectors feel he is an opener of international class and we want to give him as much time as possible."
The two teams will now play a Twenty20 International on Boxing Day in Auckland before a five-ODI series. Three players - left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, allrounder Kieron Pollard and left-handed batsman Shawn Findlay - arrived on Sunday for the limited-overs leg of West Indies' tour.
"We have a few new players who have joined the team and they have been to the nets trying to get over their jet lag," said Dyson. "We just have to readjust our thinking and the way we approach the game as we look forward to these matches and get ready for Twenty20s. With our team, they have a lot of 20/20 experience and it is a form of the game they are very comfortable and happy with."