Chanderpaul, Gayle fail to pull West Indies out of rut
Kingston: Half-centuries from veteran left-handers Shiv Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle did little to revive West Indies from their struggles and New Zealand look heavy favourites to win the opening Test at Sabina Park.
Chanderpaul stroked an attractive unbeaten 84 and Gayle, 64, in his 100th Test but the Caribbean side were repeatedly hurt by bursts from seamer Tim Southee and debutant off-spinner Mark Craigg, and collapsed to 262 all out.
Southee, the persistent right-armer, was brilliant with four for 19 while Craig found traction from the flat surface to finish with four for 91.
With a lead of 246, New Zealand made heavy weather of their second innings, stumbling to 14 for two at the close - a lead of 260 heading into Wednesday’s penultimate day.
They were undone by key strikes from fast bowler Jerome Taylor who claimed Peter Fulton without scoring to a catch by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin diving in front first slip, and new ball partner Kemar Roach, who prised out Kane Williamson for two, bowled offering no shot for the second time in the match.
Resuming the day on 19 without loss in response to New Zealand’s massive 508 for seven declared, West Indies openers Gayle and Kieran Powell did well to weather a testing first hour against Southee and left-arm seamer Trent Boult.
Gayle and fellow left-hander Powell seemed to be laying the foundation for a respectable response, when they put on 60 for the first wicket.
However, the introduction of Craig changed the tone of the morning session as he removed Powell for 28 and Kirk Edwards without scoring, in his fifth over of the day, before leg-spinner Ish Sodhi accounted for Darren Bravo in the next over, also without scoring.
Powell had faced 76 balls and struck three fours when he played down the wrong line to one that pitched and straightened and was adjudged lbw.
Two deliveries later, Edwards poked at a good length delivery while anchored to his crease and edged to first slip Ross Taylor to take a smart catch diving to his right.
Wobbling at 60 for two, West Indies suffered an even harsher blow just nine balls later when stroke-maker Bravo chipped a simple catch back to Sodhi.
As has become the custom, Chanderpaul then helped to steady the West Indies innings as Gayle went about his business with his usual aplomb.
The Jamaican collected two consecutive boundaries off Craig in the next over, first sweeping through mid-wicket before hammering a short ball past point, to move into the 40s.
He then drove Sodhi to the straight boundary in the next over before reaching his 35th half-century with an uppish drive through cover for four off Boult.
Unbeaten on 59 at lunch with the West Indies on 97 for three, Gayle was one of two quick wickets to fall after the interval, as Southee ripped through the innings.
Southee started the rut in the fifth over after lunch when he produced a delivery that seamed away beautifully from Gayle and clipped the outside edge, for wicketkeeper Bradley-John Watling to take a regulation catch.
Gayle faced 125 balls, lasted 169 minutes and struck 11 fours, and fell three runs short of 7000 runs in Tests.
Two balls later, Marlon Samuels found himself trapped on his crease, back when he should have been forward, and was palpably lbw without scoring.
In chaos at 104 for five, West Indies rebounded through Chanderpaul and captain Ramdin, who added 72 in a positive sixth wicket stand.
Chanderpaul batting for nearly four hours, facing 138 deliveries and striking 13 fours while Ramdin’s 39 came from 77 balls and included six fours.
Chanderpaul played freely, flicking Boult off the legs to the mid-wicket boundary and also sweeping Sodhi behind square for another boundary, as West Indies inched towards 150.
Ramdin also took his chances, sweetly driving Boult past cover and also depositing Sodhi over the same region for another boundary.
He picked up pace with two more boundaries off Craig’s 15th over and appeared set to take the West Indies to tea before being deceived by a slower ball from Southee - operating in the third over of a new spell - and glancing a leg-side catch behind on the stroke of the break.
On 176 for six at tea, the West Indies lost a cluster of wickets afterward to slide to 223 for nine, before Chanderpaul and Shane Shillingford (14) put on 39 for the last wicket.
Unbeaten on 43 at the interval, Chanderpaul raised his 63rd Test half-century with a single to point off Craigg and then opened up, punching three fours in an over from Boult to race into the 80s.
Southee fittingly ended the innings in the second over with the second new ball, removing Shillingford to a catch behind, with Chanderpaul left eyeing an elusive 30th Test hundred.
New Zealand 508 for seven decl. (Kane Williamson 113, James Neesham 107, BJ Watling 89, Tom Latham 83, Ross Taylor 55, Tim Southee 21 not out; Sulieman Benn 3/142, Shane Shillingford 3/145) and 14 for two.
West Indies 262 (Shiv Chanderpaul 84 not out, Chris Gayle 64, Denesh Ramdin 39, Kieran Powell 28; Tim Southee 4/19, Mark Craig 4/91).