Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: West Indies fight back

Tim Southee made the initial break-through in the afternoon session. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Southee made the initial break-through in the afternoon session. Photo / Getty Images

West Indies 289-6

The largest West Indies partnership of the series earned the visitors credibility on the opening day of the final test against New Zealand.

Denesh Ramdin and Shiv Chanderpaul put their collective 209 tests (Ramdin 56, Chanderpaul 153) to good use with a 200-run partnership for the sixth wicket to help the West Indies to 289 for six at stumps.

Ramdin was caught behind for 107, his fourth test century, with less than four overs left in the day. Chanderpaul is 94, passing quintuple Nelson (11111) test runs along the way when he reached 34 and four runs short of overtaking Allan Border's 11174 test runs.

The pair used what looked a gentle-paced Seddon Park wicket to their advantage in the sunny afternoon as a light breeze wafted across the park for added batting comfort. Ramdin's innings was noteworthy for a series of blazing cover drives to length balls on the up outside off stump. Chanderpaul was at his accumulating best approaching a 29th test century.

They came together 40 minutes into the afternoon session with the West Indies 86 for five in the 37th over. They carved out a resistance against a New Zealand attack which sensed dominance.

Ramdin provided chances on 57 (he lofted an Ish Sodhi delivery through mid-wicket, only to be dropped by Kane Williamson at 186) and 92 (when short cover Tim Southee spilled a full-blooded drive off Boult at 250). McCullum rotated his bowlers methodically, including the return of Boult and Southee with the new ball but they made no headway. Anderson removed Ramdin.

The West Indies lost their mojo after lunch with the loss of four wickets for nine runs, loosening the grip they held over the first session.

The wickets fell in a clump across 33 balls. The visitors slumped from 77 for one to 86 for five as fans digested their picnics. The West Indies were 142 for five at tea with Chanderpaul and Ramdin both on 30.

Southee made the initial post-lunch break-throughs. His efforts were reinforced by Anderson whose left-arm pace has improved markedly since his opening two tests in Bangladesh.

Southee's first victim Kraigg Brathwaite let himself down after a careful 45. He may as well have been wearing a red suit with white trim and parked his reindeer beyond the boundary rope, such was the gift he presented Williamson in the gully. Kirk Edwards was next, courtesy of a savvy request for the Decision Review System by Southee. He was adjudged caught behind.

Anderson worked in tandem with Southee, coaxing Marlon Samuels to flay outside off stump with minimal foot movement. Williamson snaffled a sharper chance, again at gully.

The left-armer backed up with what might have been considered a fortuitous lbw of Narsingh Deonarine. A DRS review showed it to be hitting to the top of leg stump as he tried to work the ball into the legside. If the DRS had been applied by New Zealand it would have been ruled not out.

The collapse undid the courageous efforts of the top order, which had suffered the loss of star batsman Darren Bravo to an injury blow in the nets yesterday.

Brathwaite opened with Kieran Powell, as one of three changes. Edwards shifted to No.3. Elsewhere, the West Indies chose two specialist spinners in Sunil Narine and Veerasammy Permaul. Narine replaced Shane Shillingford and Permaul came in for Shannon Gabriel. New Zealand's side was unchanged.

The openers eased to 41 before Powell fluttered at a Neil Wagner ball which grew on him as he uncoiled a cut. Wicketkeeper B-J Watling pouched a standard catch. Powell made 26.

The pitch initially held few troubles after the visitors were inserted. In a curious aside, it was the 10th straight time a team has been sent in by the toss-winning captain in a New Zealand test. The prospect of batting first on wickets which show hints of green appear to give captains the heebie-jeebies.

McCullum may have opted to bowl knowing it would guarantee a rest for his bowlers between innings. That might offer the necessary down time to keep them in pristine physical condition ahead of India's arrival next month, although with Boult and Southee rested from the one-dayers there's little chance of them being overworked.

SCOREBOARD

- NZ Herald

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