Powell digs in as Gayle marks return
North Sound, Antigua – Kieran Powell said it was vitally important that he dug deep to provide the perfect support for Chris Gayle at the top of the West Indies innings against New Zealand on Thursday.
Powell played with a straight bat and offered ideal backing for his more illustrious batting partner, in a superb century opening stand on the second day of the first Digicel Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
The 22-year-old left-hander ended 58 not out off 164 balls in three hours of batting. His third Test match half-century came off 128 balls with eight boundaries. Gayle closed the day on 83 not out off 124 balls with 12 fours and a big six, which marked a fantastic return to the Test match arena. His half-century came off just 39 balls as he tore into the New Zealand bowlers.
The Windies will resume Friday on 145 without loss, 207 away from first innings lead after the Black Caps were restricted to 351. Earlier in the day, Sunil Narine was the most successful bowler taking 5-132 off 43 overs - his first five-wicket haul in just his second Test match.
“Chris hit the ball with immense power and took the attack to New Zealand. That helped to take the pressure off me. I decided I had to dig in and look to offer support to him. He’s a great player, the kind of player that can take the game away from the opposition,” said Powell, who is playing in his ninth Test match.
“I was able to go along at my own pace and that helped me in to settle in and play my natural game. The situation today worked really well for me, and tomorrow I will come back and look to dig in once more and build on the good start we have so far.”
Powell joked: “Sometimes it’s a bit dangerous batting out there with Chris because you feel you might get hit. I know I can’t hit the ball like him so I didn’t even try. I got myself into my own bubble and tried to stay within my limitation. I just batted and supported him and admired a few of his shots.”
This is the third time Powell has been involved in a century stand in Test cricket. Last October he added 100 for the first wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite against Bangladesh in the first innings of the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. A month later Powell was involved in another century partnership, when he added 160 for the fourth wicket with Darren Bravo in the first innings of the third Test against India at the Wankhede in Mumbai.
Powell, who is a graduate of the Sagicor High Performance Centre, had a lean run on the recent Test tour of England. He returned to the West Indies A Team and scored a brilliant century in the third unofficial Test in St Lucia last month. He said that was the ideal preparation for this series against New Zealand.
“I came back from England and knew exactly what I had to do. I went back to the A Team and I worked on my game. I tried to bat time, as that is one of the keys to success in Test cricket. I got a hundred in St Lucia and that did me the world of good. I wanted to bring that form into Test cricket. I have been watching the ball a lot closer and it worked for me again today.”