Port of Spain: West Indies finally broke the back of New Zealand’s resistance and romped to a 10-wicket victory after lunch on the final day of the second Test at Queen’s Park Oval on Friday.
Set 93 runs to win after the Black Caps were dismissed for 331 in their second innings, attacking opening batsman Chris Gayle stole the show with an unbeaten 80 off just 46 balls as the home side romped to 95 without loss off 13.2 overs.
The result leaves the series tied at 1-1 heading into the third and final Test starting on Thursday at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
Gayle, who belted seven fours and six sixes, left Kraigg Brathwaite trailing in his wake. But it was the junior opening partner who took the Man-of-the-Match award for his first innings of 129.
It was all very different at the start of the day, though, as New Zealand’s late-order defiance and unsettled weather caused the home side no end of anxiety, especially as sub-standard cricket contributed to their own frustrations.
Starting the day at 257 for eight, just 18 runs ahead with only two wickets in hand, the Black Caps’ ninth-wicket pair of B.J. Watling and Mark Craig extended their partnership to 99, a new record in Tests for New Zealand against the West Indies.
The Caribbean side broke through after 80 minutes’ play when Craig was caught by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin for a topscore of 67 off Kemar Roach, giving the pacer his fourth wicket of the innings.
Craig had continued to live a charmed life. In a bizarre sequence of events at the start of the final day, the left-hander edged through the slip cordon, was dropped by Benn at third slip and then had another edge missed by Chris Gayle low to his right at first slip when Ramdin chose not to attempt the catch. Jerome Taylor was the suffering bowler on each occasion.
His eventual dismissal was the prompt for rain to then drive the players off the field, holding up play for 20 minutes as West Indian impatience grew.
Last man Trent Boult hung around for more than half-an-hour with Watling as another 20 runs were eked out before touching a delivery from fast bowler Shannon Gabriel for Ramdin to take his fifth catch of the innings on the stroke of lunch.
“There are some things we still need to work on because we were a bit lazy in the field yesterday and today,” said Ramdin, reflecting on his team’s first Test win at the venue since 2008. “I’m still learning as captain as well. There were a few tactical things I need to look at again.”
Watling was unbeaten on 66, his 387 minutes of unyielding defiance occupying 216 deliveries and including four boundaries.
“It was always going to be tough for us to get back in the game after we lost seven for 60 on the first day,” said New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum. “It really sets it up now for Barbados, though.”