Gayle, Powell remain intact
NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Chris Gayle plundered his 14th Test hundred, celebrating his long-awaited return to Test whites in grand fashion, and Kieran Powell was looking to fulfil his immense promising with his maiden, as West Indies continued their dominance over New Zealand before lunch in the first Digicel Test on Friday here.
The talismanic Gayle was undefeated on 146 and his understudy Powell was unbeaten on 96, as the Windies reached 245 without loss, replying to the New Zealanders’ first innings total of 351, at lunch on the third day.
Gayle, playing a Test for the first time in more than 19 months, reached the milestone, much to the delight of the modest crowd at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
He greeted Chris Martin’s first ball of the day, a short, rising delivery, with a pull high over mid-wicket for his second six to reach his hundred from 149 balls.
Gayle removed his helmet held his arms aloft in triumph for several seconds before waving his bat to the four corners of the ground in celebration.
He further celebrated, when he drove the same bowler on the up to long-off for another boundary two deliveries later.
Gayle had lofted left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, the former Black Caps captain, for a six over long-off to move to 95 before dispatching Martin to reach his hundred.
He and Powell have now featured in the highest West Indies opening stand since Gayle and Daren Ganga put on 214 against Zimbabwe 11 years ago in Bulawayo.
Powell, a graduate of the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre, remained unflappable, inching closer and closer to the landmark.
He showed his class with a few well-executed boundaries after a 20-minute stoppage, when rain offered New Zealand temporary respite about 40 minutes after the start.
Powell struck two boundaries in Martin’s 13th over, a sweetly-timed drive past mid-on and a fierce upper cut to third man.
He moved into the 90s, when he scorched the turf with a firm sweep off Vettori through mid-wicket for his 15th four.
But it was not all one-way traffic for West Indies, as the Black Caps’ bowlers, Nick Wagner and Vettori in particular, bowled purposeful spells, and just prior to lunch, came close to making the breakthrough.
Gayle, on 142, again had a huge slice of fortune, when wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Ross Taylor both failed to grab a chance, after he edged playing defensively forward to Kane Williamson’s part-time off-spin.
Next delivery, Powell too, almost gifted his wicket on 95, when he popped a delivery from the same bowler just over the head of the mid-wicket fielder off the leading edge.
NEW ZEALAND 1st Innings 351
(M. Guptill 97; S. Narine 5-132)
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
(overnight 145 without loss)
C. Gayle not out 146
K. Powell not out 96
Extras (lb2, nb1) 3
TOTAL (without loss, 72 overs) 245
A. Fudadin, M. Samuels, S. Chanderpaul, N. Deonarine, +D. Ramdin, *D. Sammy, K. Roach, S. Narine, R. Rampaul to bat
Bowling: Martin 13-3-75-0 (nb1); Bracewell 14-2-46-0; Wagner 15-4-54-0; Vettori 21-6-48-0; Williamson 9-1-20-0
Position: West Indies trail by 106 runs with all their first innings wickets standing
Umpires: R. Kettleborough, P. Reiffel
TV umpire: M. Erasmus
Match referee: R. Madugalle
Reserve umpire: J. Wilson