No one is trying to be alarmist but one has to face up to certain facts.
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Kiwis clinch series
The West Indies tail seemed up for the fight but the top-order collapsed in typical fashion as New Zealand won the final Test by 53 runs at Kensington Oval on the fifth evening, to walk away with a 2-1 series win, their second in the Caribbean.
The Kiwis declared at their overnight position of 331 for seven and set the home team a sporting 308 for victory. The locals finally fell for 254 with 13 overs and four balls to go in the match.
It looked like an early finish when Darren Bravo (40) left in early afternoon with the score at 144 for seven. However new boy Jason Holder and Shane Shillingford had other ideas and batted for two hours in taking the score to 221 but their efforts were not enough in the end.
Holder on debut scored 52 before he played back to Mark Craig, with him went the final hopes. He batted for 122 minutes, faced 79 balls and struck four fours and sweetly driven six.
Shillingford remained unbeaten on 30 in 131 minutes off 101 balls with two fours, when Jerome Taylor fell leg before to Trent Boult to spark off the Kiwi celebrations..
West Indies were hampered early in their chase by the loss of the usually dogged Kraigg Brathwaite. The Barbadian padded up to one that pitched in line with the stumps and he was expecting to move away with the angle. He lifted his bat and the ball came back in, brushed his pad and knocked back the off stump. As Trent Boult and his teammates celebrated, he was walking back for six with the score at seven.
Kirk Edwards joined an unsure Gayle and they played and missed on several occasions before Boult ended Edwards’ misery with a delivery angled across him, which took part of his bat on the way to Ross Taylor at slip.
The next scalp was the big one, as Gayle playing out of his zone got an inside edge and was bowled by Tim Southee for 11 with the score at 31. The Jamaican faced 33 balls for his 11 runs and just did not look the part. It was the sixth time that Southee has gotten the Royal Challengers Bangalore player in 19 innings and third time in this series.
Chanderpaul and Bravo then batted with great care and was together at 11.23am when the heavens opened. The score at this point was 72 for three with Chanderpaul on 23 and Bravo on 22 and an early lunch was taken.
After the resumption the visitors struck big in the form of Mark Craig who got the scalp of Chanderpaul. The Guyanese was stumped for 25 made off 70 balls with two fours. It represented the first time the left hander was stumped in a Test match after playing 265 innings. Which meant he faced 26,291 balls before he got stumped.
All the while Bravo was a study in concentration, playing balls as late as possible and showing great care for his wicket. Skipper Denesh Ramdin joined him and they took the score past 100 without further alarm.
The rain then made an intervention and after a very short break, Southee bowling a nagging line just outside the off-stump was able to send back Ramdin for 29.
Bravo soon followed getting out to yet another loose shot outside the off-stump. He flayed at one that ended into the safe hands of Kane Williamson at third slip. He looked irritated at his dismissal because balls like those he was not playing at during this innings. The Kiwis were patient and he finally went after one and left for 40 made off 98 balls with six fours.
At the end West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin said that although his team lost there are a lot of positives that they can take from the series. “Credit to Brendon, lots of positives we can still take from this series. We didn’t put up the kind of fight we wanted to. The New Zealand lower order kept pushing us and in the end it worked against us. In the first innings we could have pushed on but that’s Test cricket and hopefully we can get it right in the next couple of matches.”
Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum said: “It was a good series played by two very good teams and I thought they put us under a lot of pressure. Today was a testament to how good a series it has been. Tom Latham and Mark Craig have really stood up and Jimmy Neesham is very valuable to our side. Our fast bowlers have been great overseas, taking wickets on these pitches. You obviously want to score runs but you also enjoy other people’s success. This series is ground-breaking for this group.”
The bandwagon now shifts to Dominica where the two-match T20 series will be played on the weekend.
West Indies vs New Zealand
N Zealand 1st Inns 293
Windies 1st Inns 317
N Zealand 2nd Inns
(overnight 331/7 dec)
Windies 2nd inns
C Gayle b Southee 11
K Brathwaite b Boult 6
K Edwards c Taylor b Boult 10
S Chanderpaul st Watling b Craig 25
D Bravo c Williamson b Southee 40
D Ramdin c Taylor b Southee 29
J Holder b Craig 52
K Roach c Latham b Craig 7
S Shillingford not out 31
S Benn c Southee b Wagner 10
J Taylor lbw Boult 12
Extras b4, lb15, w1, nb2 22
Total all out 254
Fall of wkts: 7, 23, 31, 81, 122, 129, 144, 221, 232,
Bowling: T Boult 16.2-1-48-3, T Southee 16-4-28-3, M Craig 28-7-84-3, N Wagner 16-3-50-1, J Neesham 3-1-9-0, K Williamson 3-0-16-0.
Result: New Zealand won by 53 runs.
Man-of-match: Kane Williamson. Man of the series: Kane Williamson.