Dominant West Indies crush New Zealand
A century and half-century in two innings from Gayle, five-fors from Sunil Narine and Kemar Roach in the first and second innings respectively helped the hosts overpower the Kiwis in the first Test at Antigua.
After a complete drubbing in the limited overs series, New Zealand were a touch nervous going into the Tests and on a slow Antigua pitch, New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor elected to bat. His openers gave a solid start, adding 97 before Daniel Flynn became the first Test victim of Sunil Narine. Brendon McCullum could not do much but then Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor got into a wonderful partnership and this opening day seemed to be going New Zealand’s way, albeit with a slightly slow run-rate.
And then, in the dying moments of the day, Sunil Narine struck twice to dismiss both the batsmen, breaking the 90-run stand. The Kiwis went in to stumps at 232/4 but still, it was a decent effort. The next morning, the Windies came out firing and wickets started to fall like ninepins. A good cameo from Doug Bracewell took the visitors to 351, a competitive score nevertheless. Martin Guptill top scored with 97 and ended with a Batting Momentum of 111. For West Indies, Sunil Narine produced career best figures of 5/132, while Ravi Rampaul ended with a Bowling Efficiency of 9.
The momentum was with the Kiwis but the Windies came out all guns blazing. Chris Gayle showed how his absence had hurt the Windies with some blistering strokes. Kieran Powell gave him good support. Both the batsmen were given lives and when play ended on Day 2, the tables had turned on the Kiwis, with the hosts’ score reading 145, without a single dismissal.
The third day continued nicely with the first session yielding no wicket. Gayle was dismissed for 150 and the 254-run stand was finally broken. Powell made 134 and he too, threw his wicket away. But then, the Windies lost their way a touch, losing 4 wickets in the final session and ended the day on 442/6, with an overall lead of 91.
Sammy and Deonarine continued the juggernaut on day 4 as they added quickfire 55 runs. Deonarine dragged one onto his stumps on 79 but Sammy went on to score his half century off 79 balls and powered the Kiwis to a sizable lead of 171. They were all out for 522. Chris Martin was the pick of the bowlers picking up 3 wickets. The Kiwis started the chase in a positive fashion as the openers added 47 runs for the first wicket. Narine struck gold as he removed Flynn leg before wicket.
But Guptill and McCullum started the rebuilding process and they played stupendous cricket adding 123 for the second wicket. Both the batsmen brought up their half-centuries but Narine struck again when he had Guptill caught at forward short leg for 67. McCullum continued to attack and just when he was looking ominous, he dragged one onto his stumps. He achieved a highest Batting Momentum of 113. Taylor and night-watchman Wagner made sure that there were no more slip-ups as the Kiwis ended the day on 199/3, effectively 28/3.
The Kiwis came out with a defensive mind set on day 5 and this cost them dearly as Roach ripped through the line-up and picked up his 5th five-for in Tests. The Kiwis surrendered to the fast and furious spell of Roach and bundled out for 272 which meant that the hosts had to chase a target of 102.
Chasing the total, Chris Gayle and Kieran Powell got off to a blistering start as they added 77 runs for the first wicket. Bracewell finally had Powell caught at point but it was too little too late as Gayle blasted his way to another half-century, his 34th, and powered the hosts to a nine-wicket victory. Gayle remained unbeaten on 64 off 49 deliveries and achieved the best Batting Momentum of 87.
The hosts ended on 179 points on the Castrol Index, 30 ahead of New Zealand. Narine was named the Man of the Match for his stupendous bowling, picking up 8 wickets in the match.